ROGERS PARK — Angel Lopez has become a familiar face to Rogers Park neighbors after years of selling ice cream, snacks, bottled water and other small goods at local beaches.
But Lopez’s cart has broken, and he’s reaching out to the neighborhood for help so he can get back to work.
Selling ice cream and refreshments is Lopez’s main source of income. But the 61-year-old can really only pursue that work when the weather is warm, which means the loss of his cart at this time — the height of summer — is especially problematic.
“I love to see the people smile and the little money that I get,” he said. “I struggle to get through the month, so that helps me to get by. … I’m saving up in the summer to make up for what I can’t do in the winter.”
When Lopez’s ice cream cart broke down about two weeks ago, frequent beach-goer Manar Elkheir launched a GoFundMe to raise money to buy him a new one.
Elkheir said she comes down to the lake daily and is used to seeing Lopez.
“We would always smile at each other and just exchange love,” said Elkheir, 27. “And then I had seen him after not seeing him for a while and he told me that his bike broke down.”
Elkheir immediately organized the fundraiser to help Lopez buy a new cart, which comes with a bike attached, she said.
Lopez and his ice cream cart have provided refreshments, smiles and a sense of community to residents and passersby, Elkheir said.
“I know people know him: He’s just so radiant, and he’s here often,” Elkheir said. “I was like, ‘I’m sure people here love you, and if they heard that you were down bad they would do what they can to help you.'”
The GoFundMe has raised about $1,000 toward its $3,500 target, which Elkheir said is the median price of an ice cream cart with an attached bicycle. Lopez struggles with back pain and is unable to use a push cart on foot, so cycling allows him to continue business without hurting himself.
“It’s truly amazing that we raised $1,000 ever, in any span of time,” Elkheir said. “I just love him so dearly and I just want him to have his ice cream cart as soon as possible. I just think about the season ending — it does feel like August is right around the corner.”
You can donate to Lopez’s fundraiser here.
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