Street vendor gives away more than 100 free meals weekly in East Hollywood

A street vendor in East Hollywood is giving back despite his own personal struggles throughout the pandemic.
EAST HOLLYWOOD (KABC) -- More than 100 free meals are passed out in East Hollywood every Tuesday.

They're for people who need a little help and a warm meal.

Local resident Heleo Leyva is the one that organizes these community cookouts.

He's a street vendor, known for his blue corn tortilla quesadillas at his Quesadillas Tepexco.

Leyva and his volunteers get the word out on Instagram and raise money by collecting donations through Venmo.

But earlier this summer, Leyva had to set up a fundraiser for his own needs.

Street vendors have suffered immensely throughout the pandemic. At one point, Leyva said he had difficulty keeping the lights on and paying his rent.

"We started the GoFundMe account where people have donated over $6,000. And with that we have been able to pay for rent. So, we realized that we needed to do something like a payback for the community for all their support," said Leyva.

They managed to raise about $350 for this week's cookout but they've already raised more than $600 for next week.

Friends and Family chef Daniel Mattern cooks alongside Leyva and provides the grill.

"I would just encourage people to do one little thing to help somebody outside of your initial circle. Just trying to help out people in some way and I think that will help bring us all together a little bit," said Mattern.

The community cookout happens every Tuesday at 12 p.m. at 4621 Santa Monica Blvd.
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