Elderly Chicago street vendor receives more than $423,000 in donations, says he will share with others in need

Mr Fidencio Sanchez, 89, hopes that part of the money raised for him can be used to help others in need.
Mr Fidencio Sanchez, 89, hopes that part of the money raised for him can be used to help others in need. PHOTO: JOEL CERVANTES MACIAS/ FACEBOOK

The elderly Chicago vendor whose story touched thousands has received more than US$310,000 (S$423,000) in donations in just under a week.

The 89-year-old says he hopes that part of the money can be used to help others in need.

Restauranteur Joel Cervantes Macias first posted the story of street vendor Fidencio Sanchez on social media last Friday (Sept 9). Mr Sanchez, sells paletas, or fruity popsicles, out of a pushcart.

Mr Cervantes had seen Mr Sanchez struggling to push his cart down the street in the predominantly working-class and Latino neighbourhood of Little Village, and was moved to start an online fund-raiser to help out.

The campaign went viral and has garnered more than 97,000 shares, as well as contributions from more than 50 countries.

 

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mr Cervantes reached the initial target of US$3,000 in under an hour, and donations kept coming in.

Members of the public learned that Mr Sanchez, who had retired two months earlier, had to return to plying his trade of 23 years in order to support himself and his wife Eladia. Their only daughter Catalina, who provided for the elderly couple, died in July.

"She was the main support in the family," granddaughter Dulce Perez told a local CBS news channel on Sunday. "After my mum's passing, I felt that they felt more burdened to not miss any days" hitting the streets as hawkers.

"For me, my work is very important," Mr Sanchez said in Spanish in a video interview posted to Facebook on Saturday.

He also said then that he did not believe the money should be only for himself or his wife.

He will be giving a part of it to the church that he attends in Chicago and a part to the church in his birthplace in Morelos, Mexico. He hopes that the money can also be used for others in need.

The rest of the money will be held by his two grandchildren.

Ms Perez was quoted by Univision as saying that she will help her grandparents learn to manage their affairs.

"We want what is most secure for my grandparents," she said.

Mr Sanchez's perseverance has inspired a mural in his community.