Thousands of strangers help an 89-year-old Popsicle vendor — surely there's no holy ghost?

Grab a tissue.

This story — if somehow you've missed it — will warm your heart.

It's about thousands of strangers moved to make a better life for an 89-year-old Popsicle vendor in Chicago.

The basic details via NPR:

It was just a glimpse, but the scene spoke volumes — and started a push for help. Joel Cervantes Macias was struck by the sight of an elderly man pushing his cart of frozen treats on Chicago's 26th Street, so he took a photo. That was last week; as of Monday afternoon, Macias had raised more than $165,000 to help a stranger.
"It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age," Macias wrote on a Go Fund Me page he set up for the 89-year-old vendor, Fidencio Sanchez. "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."
After posting a picture of Sanchez on Facebook, Macias quickly learned that others had the same response to seeing the man bent over to push his cart full of paletas, the traditional Mexican frozen treats. Many who commented wanted to know how they could help the man — and one of them, Joe Loera, suggested the Go Fund Me page.

As of the moment I'm typing this, the amount raised stands at $328,500 given by more than 15,000 people. Wow!

But perhaps I should get to the point of this post: One of the occupational hazards of writing for GetReligion is that you start looking for ghosts everywhere.

So ... is there a holy ghost here? Is there a religion angle in a bunch of strangers donating money to help an old man? Maybe. 

I mean, Macias did use the phrase "God bless" when he first encountered Sanchez.

But beyond that, the reports I've read make me curious about the vendor's own faith. That certainly appears to be a potentially important part of the story.

NPR noted:

The fundraising campaign also helped Sanchez's story emerge. On the campaign page, a woman wrote to say the elderly man has long been a regular at her church and that his daughter died last month. Chicago's WLS TV 7 reports that Sanchez and his wife recently decided to go back to work so they could care for their two grandsons.
"We thought, 'What are we going to do? We have to pay the bills,' " WLS quotes Sanchez saying.

And the Chicago Tribune reported:

The next time the pair met, Cervantes caught up with Sanchez at his church, and delivered the six-figure news.
“I set (the fundraiser goal) for a modest $3,000 and in 54 minutes, to be exact, we already reached that,” Cervantes said Sunday afternoon. “Like my brother told me, ‘That picture speaks 1,000 words.’ I think if I wasn’t lucky enough to take that picture, I don’t think it would’ve had the response that it did,” Cervantes said.

Wait, which church? How did Cervantes know where to find him? What can the folks at the church tell us about the old man and, yes, his faith? Inquiring minds who read GetReligion want to know.

Looking for a stronger possible religion angle? CNN caught up with the man's pastor:

Gilberto Bahena, Sanchez's pastor at his neighborhood church, calls the outpouring of financial support -- from more than 9,000 people -- a miracle.
"It's for sure an answer to their prayers," Bahena said. "This man has really been faithful to the Lord. This man has a good heart."

But again, information about the church and Sanchez's role is kept vague. News media friends, please tell me more.

In the meantime, where'd I put that tissue?

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