Robbed street vendor surprised with $10k and new cart in Long Beach
After paletero Bernardo Nuñez was robbed of his ice cream cart in Long Beach, nonprofit Local Hearts Foundation stepped in and surprised the street vendor with $10,000 and a new ice cream cart.
“This is a 66-year-old man who has been selling ice cream for over a decade,” said Tito Rodriguez, co-founder of Local Hearts Foundation.
The nonprofit was launched by founders HJ Chong and Tito Rodriguez. Their mission is to give back to those who need it most across Greater Los Angeles.
“Local Hearts Foundation we started a decade ago,” said Chong. “We started as friends, family and community coming together.”
The organization hosts events throughout the year, including Back-to-School, Thanksgiving and Christmas drives. In response to recent acts of violence against street vendors across the Los Angeles area, the duo embarked on a new mission.
“HJ and I came up with this plan to help street vendors out after they’ve been attacked left and right,” said Rodriguez. “We said, ‘That’s not right. We’ve got to find some way to help them.'”
Chong and Rodriguez hit the streets, handing out PPE to street vendors across Los Angeles County. Rodriguez received a message on Instagram, informing him that a street vendor in his hometown of Long Beach was recently robbed of his ice cream cart.
“He went into the 99-cent store on 53rd and Long Beach Blvd. to get some napkins and when he came out, his cart was gone,” Rodriguez said. “When I went and saw him, he looked devastated.”
Chong and Rodriguez bought Nuñez a new ice cream cart and created a GoFundMe page in his name, raising more than $10,000 in a matter of days.
“We let him know, ‘Listen, this isn’t us. This is the community; over 300 people who pledged to help you. Understand that your contribution of working hard does not go unnoticed,'” Chong said.
Nuñez said he’s already cruising the streets, selling ice cream across Long Beach.