On Aug. 16, Carlos Mendoza Herrera and Alondra Lopez Gonzalez lost their lives when their food truck crashed and caught fire on I-75 due to a tire failure. Herrera and Gonzalez left behind a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son in the wake of the accident.
This past weekend, JFCS of the Suncoast and Big Top Brewing Company partnered with area food trucks in an effort to raise money for the two children and their aunt, Clara Mendoza, who has taken them in.
Thee owners of the local food trucks El Indio Tacos y Snacks and Smokin Momma Lora's BBQ stepped in to help organize two food truck rally fundraisers, while JFCS helped to promote the events and to take in-kind donations like toys and gift cards. The weekend events raised around $10,000, contributing to a total of $15,000 in donations collected by JFCS so far.
"What an amazing community we live in," Karen Pharo, director of community outreach at JFCS, said a statement. "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."
In addition to the funds raised by JFCS and the food truck rallies, a GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $21,000, exceeding the original goal of $12,000.
JFCS will continue to collect monetary and in-kind donations—including checks, gift cards and toys—until Aug. 26 and will present them to the family on Aug. 31.
To donate online, please visit the JFCS website. You may also mail checks, gift cards and toys, or drop them off in person between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at 2688 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Please mark all deliveries for the Outreach Team/Mendoza Family.