The Kindness of Strangers - how an 89 year-old street seller got unexpected help

  | James Innes

Joel Cerventes Macias was recently walking through the Little Village area of Chicago when he came across a sight that broke his heart. Fidericio Sanchez, an 89 year-old street seller was hunched over the ice cream cart he was pushing. Saddened by what he had seen, Macias took a picture of him and then bought 20 paletas, a Mexican treat similar to an ice lolly, and gave him US $50.

Events took an unexpected turn when Macias uploaded the picture to Facebook. A friend then suggested he set-up a “Go Fund Me” page to raise money so that Mr. Sanchez could have a day off.

Macias wrote on his page: “I saw this elderly man struggling to push his paleta cart… broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age.”

“We’re trying to raise money to help him with whatever we can. Anything helps. Let’s all pitch in and help make life a little easier and brighten both of their days”.

The response was overwhelming. News of the fund quickly spread and donations began to our in; within days well-wishers had sent more than $100,000 for Mr. Sanchez and his elderly wife, money that was more than welcome given that they had recently lost their only daughter and were struggling to pay their bills. Mrs Sanchez had, until recently, also been selling paletas, but was forced to stop work on the grounds of ill-health.

Macias and Sanchez have been stunned by the generosity shown by strangers. Mr. Macias, who runs a Mexican restaurant in the city, said “I’m really trying to respond to every single kind message that I am receiving in my inbox and on Facebook.” “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Sanchez who works all-year round selling ice lollies, even during Chicago’s bitter winters, is looking forward to a well-deserved rest.

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