Man uses TikTok to raise more than $90K for California street vendors

LOS ANGELES -- A 24-year-old man didn't let the pandemic stop him from giving back to others.

Jesus Morales' viral TikTok videos have moved people to tears and let him gift thousands of dollars to many street vendors in Southern California.

Morales worked at a gym but was furloughed at the onset of the pandemic.

He found a way to raise tens of thousands of dollars on TikTok - not for himself - but for people making a living as street vendors.

RELATED: Fundraiser held to support family of Fresno street vendor killed

"We've been able to give over $90,000 away directly to street vendors within San Diego and Los Angeles," he said.

Millions have watched the heartfelt interactions and felt compelled to pitch in - making $1,000 donations possible for many individuals.

Some of the recipients are moved to tears in disbelief, while others humbly try to offer something in return or vow to pay it forward.

Morales says he was inspired by fellow creators doing the same type of work.

He says the safety of street vendors is a priority.

"I would hate for a street vendor to be targeted because of one of my videos," he said.

"I've never been a big fan of seeing people shove cameras in other people's faces," he adds.

RELATED: 1st president of new Fresno Food Vendor Association announced
EMBED More News Videos

Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez says the city is moving quickly to ensure local vendors have the support they've needed for years.

Morales says he gets paid through TikTok sponsorships and sells his own merchandise.

Street vendors experience many hardships, especially during the pandemic. From harassment to verbal and physical attacks, and street vendors are also cited as a new permit system rolls out in Los Angeles.

Individuals like Morales are using their platforms to raise awareness and nonprofits are advocating for lasting changes.

"Seeing street vendors to me, personally, that brings a connection to me because I know that most of them are immigrants," Morales said. "And they're coming in, day in and day out, just trying to just make it out here in the United States."

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.