Meet the TikTok angel of road distributors | KCRW Options
Can. 07, 2021
As TikTok gained popularity, Jesus Morales, like many other young people, decided to create original content to be posted on the social media platform.
What he didn’t expect was that in a very short time he would become an influencer and guardian angel for many street vendors in California.
The 24-year-old said after being laid off at the start of the pandemic in 2020, he decided to use his free time to create funny videos. His followers grew, but the results didn’t make him really happy.
He felt that something was missing.
Jesus Morales, who is on TikTok with Juixxe, collects donations from followers that he shares with street vendors in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Jesus Morales
Then he started watching other TikTok videos with one purpose: people leaving large amounts of tips in restaurants and another showing a young woman giving money to street vendors. The influencers said the money came mostly from donations from their followers.
“I made a video asking for donations to help the homeless,” said Morales, whose name on social media is @Juixxe, a piece nicknamed Juice.
And it worked. He received some donations that were used to buy food and water for people affected by homelessness.
However, its target was the Latino immigrant community.
Morales, the son of Mexican immigrants, was born and raised in Illinois and moved to San Diego a few years ago. He lived in Los Angeles for a year and noticed a large number of street vendors.
Most of them are older and undocumented, he recalled. This really was true near home as he remembered his parents’ daily struggles.
“My dad worked multiple jobs and my mom was a server and she told me that sometimes people give their money,” Morales said.
To pay tribute to the immigrants’ hard work, he began working on videos with one purpose: the money he raised from his followers was used to look for random street vendors to give to them.
We always support our street vendors! 🙏🏽 #Juixxe #StreetVendor #Giveback
♬ Original sound – Jesús
Blessings from strangers
Morales has given more than $ 90,000 to street vendors across California, but mostly in Los Angeles. He said his followers donated anywhere from a few dollars to $ 1,000 in a single transaction.
Juixxe distributes the money once or twice a week depending on how much it collects.
He has a special way of delivering the money. He asks to buy all of their wares, and if the sellers accept, Morales offers them money. He usually gives them $ 1,000 in an envelope and tells them to keep the goods.
It is very common to see street vendors in the videos shocked by the news, finally thanking him for the gesture and sending blessings to his followers.
Some even kneel down in amazement.
Morales said that these types of videos filled him with inexplicable joy.
“I don’t know (the sellers) nor do I know what they’re going through,” said Morales. “I wouldn’t say the time is perfect, but it’s a visit with a purpose.”
A full time job
A few months after creating the TikTok video, Juixxe made it his full-time job. Now he has over a million followers and his videos have thousands of views. From these views he receives his salary and from sponsors.
“Never in my life would I have imagined that I would make TikTok a living,” said Morales. “It takes a while to interact with the sellers and I can edit the video in about 20 or 30 minutes.”
Morales said after handing the donation over to the sellers, he would wait a few days or weeks to post the video on social media. He also takes care to cover up the faces of the street vendors who appear in the videos. All of this is done for your safety.
“I would hate to see a street vendor targeted and robbed,” said Juixxe, who travels from San Diego to Los Angeles once or twice a week to deliver to those most in need.
Morales always wanted to make videos like this, but had to overcome his fear of failure.
“You know you don’t have to be successful,” he said, “and I’ve failed many times in my life. This is the only thing I can say that I didn’t fail. “
This article is part of the California Divide, a collaboration of newsrooms studying income inequality and economic survival in California.