Chicago community raises nearly $20k for street vendor beaten during robbery

The Belmont Cragin neighborhood has rallied around a street vendor who was brutally beaten and robbed last week – surprising him on Friday with a $19,000 check.

After the senseless attack on Thursday, Dec. 2, the neighborhood wasted no time – quickly coming together to support the 58-year-old vendor by raising thousands of dollars in just a matter of days.

Gonzalo Garcia has been a street food vendor – selling corn – for more than a decade. Last Thursday, he was beaten and robbed near Grand and Laramie. Garcia said his attackers were students waiting for a bus. Garcia was taken by ambulance to Community First Medical Center, where he spent hours being treated for his injuries.

"There’s a lot of honor working in the streets as a street vendor. And you're making it to provide a service to people. In his case, it was to high school students, and then this happens," said Alonso Zaragoza, Belmont Cragin United.

News of the attack did not sit well with high school junior Brenda Correa, who spearheaded a GoFundMe account this week to help Garcia recover. Within two days, more than $19,000 poured in from community members.

It’s money that Correa and Zaragoza surprised Garcia with Friday afternoon.

"I know the struggle, they come here with nothing, without a dollar, without the language, without any family or any idea what to do, and they work. They just work every single day to help out their families in their countries. That’s what he’s doing, he’s supporting his wife, his three children, his two nieces," said Correa. "I’m just so proud of him, it’s lovely to be able to help him. It’s an honor."


Correa said her school, ITW David Speer Academy, has offered to help make Garcia’s cart more secure by installing a locked draw for money.

"You can tell he's a hardworking man, he cares about his family, he sends his money to his family back in Mexico. And the fact that he pushed his cart about eight blocks to get here from Cicero tells me a lot. He really cares about what he does, whatever it is he's doing," said Zaragoza.

Any additional money donated to the GoFundMe account will be provided to Garcia.

According to the Chicago Police Department, detectives are investigating the attack; currently, there are no suspects in custody.