An elderly street vendor who was photographed hunched over and struggling to push his ice pop cart in Chicago touched the hearts of thousands of people who have donated more than $160,000 to help him pay his bills.
Fidencio Sanchez, 89, has been selling paletas, or Mexican ice pops, around the city alone after his wife, who used to help him, fell ill and the couple’s only daughter passed away, the Chicago Tribune reports.
More than 7,000 people have donated more than $160,000 to help him after a customer named Joel Cervantes was moved by his work ethic and began an online fundraising page for the couple.
“It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age,” Cervantes wrote on Facebook. “Let’s all pitch in and help make life a little easier and brighten both of their day.”
Cervantes told the Tribune that he was not surprised that the campaign took off the way it did because of the powerful image. “They seen how he’s struggling to pull the cart. He looks like he’s suffering, like he’ll never give up … they put two and two together, like they need to do this to survive,” he said.
Sanchez told reporters through a translator that he was thankful for the donations, which he says may mean he won’t have to push his cart anymore to survive.
“Well, seems to me like it won’t be necessary anymore and I will be able to rest more at home,” he said. “It means a lot, and the changes will be that there will be no need for me to work, and we will have help in all aspects—like getting better clothes and things that will improve our life at home.”