A nine-year-old boy is raising money for a Santa Ana flower vendor after spotting the man struggle while on the job.
Jeremiah Reyes was in the car with his older sister, Stephanie Reyes, on the way to basketball practice when he saw a man selling flowers on the side of the road. Reyes says he couldn’t stop thinking about the man standing in the heat, with only one arm and appearing to struggle.
“I felt really sad. I really wanted to help him out,” the fifth grader said.
Israel Parra, 57, works for Lupita’s Flowers on McFadden Avenue near Harbor Boulevard. He picks up bouquets six days a week and then spends his day trying to sell them. Parra says that although it’s difficult for him with one arm, he manages to maneuver to get change from his pocket for customers.
“I noticed that he was kind of suffering in the hot sun. He was having a hard time carrying flowers,” Stephanie Reyes said.
Parra lost his arm in an accident in 1999 and although he had a prosthetic arm for a while, he says it wasn’t working properly so he decided to go without it.
“I started selling ice cream but it was too hard to push the cart with one arm so I switched to selling flowers because they weren’t as heavy,” Parra said in Spanish.
Reyes learned that Parra is struggling financially — he doesn’t have health insurance and wants to get a new prosthetic arm. So the nine-year-old started a GoFundMe page to help him out, leaving Parra speechless.
“It just stayed in my heart and it just made me sad, kept on thinking about it and I really wanted to help him out,” Reyes said.
His sister says she’s proud to see her little brother was raised right.
“He surprised me that he became a little more selfless,” she said. “He wants to make a difference and he wants to create hope for this man.”
Reyes and his sister say they will use the money to help Parra and other vendors in the community.
“I want to inspire everybody out there to start helping the community,” Reyes said.
If you would like to keep up with Jeremiah’s journey to help Parra and other street vendors, follow him on Instagram.