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ARIZONA HEART & SOL: Tucson man feeds homeless, runs toy drives despite kidney disease

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 8:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - This week, KOLD News 13 is recognizing a Tucson man who is spreading joy throughout the community, despite overcoming his own hardships.

Ricardo Fernandez, who already works full time as an apartment manager, is this week’s Heart and Sol of Arizona. He spends his time outside of work uplifting the Tucson community that he was born and raised in.

“If you’re blessed even with just a little bit, by giving a little bit, you will receive so much more,” he said. “I never imagined I would get so much help from so many people.”

It started in the 1990s, when he saw a large group of homeless people in a park on Christmas Eve.

“I drove over to the hamburger stand and they were 39 cent hamburgers. I bought 100 and gave them away almost immediately. Year by year it just resonated with me,” Fernandez said.

His random act of kindness has become a yearly tradition. Instead of hamburgers, hundreds of pizzas are given out every Christmas Eve. Each person in need gets their own pizza. He’s amazed to see family, friends and complete strangers helping him carry out his good deeds.

“It’s fun and something that’s heartwarming to me,” he said.

During the summertime, he gives out water to the homeless. He has also started a children’s toy drive. With such tireless dedication to others, it might be surprising to hear about all he’s personally overcome.

“I was stricken with kidney disease and on dialysis for four years. Thankfully, my cousin Kristen back in Illinois donated a kidney to me seven years ago. I still have my struggles, but I haven’t let that stop me,” he said.

Fernandez isn’t letting anything slow him down. He’s currently collecting bikes for a community outreach event next month. He plans to use his $300 Heart and Sol gift card, from KOLD’s sponsor Casino Del Sol, to ensure they meet their 52-bike goal.

“I committed to buying one bicycle for every four that were donated so this is going to go a long way,” he said.

If you have someone you think embodies the “Heart and Sol of Arizona,” please nominate them here.

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