$300K Raised for 89-Year-Old Chicago ‘Popsicle Man’

September 13, 2016 Updated: September 13, 2016

Fidencio Sanchez, 89, should be enjoying retirement, but instead lugs around an ice cream cart on the streets of Chicago.

It was a disheartening sight for pedestrian Joel Cervantes Macias, who snapped a photo of the octogenarian and posted the image on Facebook. Macias, along with Joe Loera, decided to establish a GoFundMe page on Sept. 9 to financially alleviate the street vendor of his daily struggle.

“I saw this elderly man struggling to push is [sic] paleta cart (Popsicle cart). It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age,”Joel Cervantes Macias, who started the campaign, said on the GoFundMe page. “I had to pull over and took this picture. I then bought 20 paletas and gave him a $50 and said may God bless him and drove away.”

The crowdfunding goal of $3,000 was quickly met—hundredfold. The page has since raised nearly $300,000 for Sanchez and his family.

The family is grateful for the donations and said it could not have come at a more perfect time.

When Sanchez’s wife became ill and was unable to work—and their only child, who was their financial support, had died—Fidencio was left with the responsibility to care for the household, including his grandchildren.

“God sent it at the time we needed it the most,” his granddaughter, Dulce Perez, told CBS Chicago. “After my mom’s passing, they felt more burdened to not miss any days.”

The generosity of strangers has astounded Perez.

“It’s just amazing the power of many people can be so big. I’m just very thankful that people had the compassion,” said Perez.

Macias and Loera intend to distribute the money to the family later in the week.