SARASOTA, FL – (Aug. 23, 2022) This past weekend, JFCS of the Suncoast, several food trucks, Big Top Brewing Company, and the community came together to raise money for two young children whose parents were killed when their food truck overturned and caught fire on Interstate 75.
Bradenton couple Carlos Mendoza Herrera and Alondra Lopez Gonzalez lost their lives on Aug. 16, leaving behind a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.
Leaders in the local food truck industry, including family friend Miguel Ulloa, who operates El Indio Tacos y Snacks food truck, and Lora Rust, owner of Smokin Momma Lora’s BBQ, quickly organized two food truck rally fundraisers. JFCS stepped in to help promote them as well as raise money and in-kind donations for the children and their aunt, Clara Mendoza, who has taken them in.
The events raised around $10,000, said Ulloa. JFCS is continuing to collect monetary donations through the JFCS website as well as toys and gift cards until Aug. 26. More than $15,000 in donations plus clothing, toys, and shoes have been collected by JFCS so far.
As of Tuesday, a GoFundMe campaign started by the children’s cousin has raised more than $21,000, surpassing its $12,000 goal. Rhea Lana’s of Sarasota donated two years’ worth of clothing and shoes to each child, said Ulloa.
On Wednesday, Aug. 31, JFCS Outreach team members Karen Pharo, Melanie Hayes, and Carolan Trbovich, along with Rust and Ulloa, will deliver donated items and a check to the Mendoza family for the total amount raised through JFCS and the food truck events. “What an amazing community we live in. It is touching to see so many people come together and provide a support system and an extended family to these beautiful children who lost their mom and dad,” said Pharo, Director of Community Outreach at JFCS.
How to help:
- Donate online here: https://jfcs-cares.org/mendoza-fundraiser/. Click on the Donate button, follow the steps to donate through PayPal, and choose the Mendoza Family in the drop-down menu.
- Mail checks, gift cards, and toys to the main JFCS office: 2688 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237
- Items can also be dropped off at the same location between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily through Friday, Aug. 26. To make other drop-off arrangements, contact Karen Pharo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please mark all deliveries for the Outreach Team/Mendoza Family. All donations must be received by Friday, Aug. 26.
About JFCS: One of the Florida Suncoast’s leading mental health and human services agencies, JFCS delivers programs and services on a non-denominational basis and with the goal of empowering individuals towards well-being and self-reliance. Inspired by the Jewish tradition of helping all people, JFCS of the Suncoast believes all people are to be treated with dignity and respect and have equal opportunity for physical and mental well-being, self-expression, and joy. For more information, visit https://JFCS-Cares.org or call (941) 366-2224.