Queens of Heart

April 9, 2014

86-year-old Korean American vegetable stand owner
donates $10,500 to Queens Hope Sharing Foundation


The Queens Hope Sharing Foundation was able to buy an used Toyota Corolla with the money the 86-year-old vegetable stand owner Lee Geum-an (front) donated to transport people in need.

During the cold winter in February, a warm bowl of rice soup was offered to those who needed it by the Queens Hope Sharing Foundation.

It received a call from a woman who said she, too, wanted a bowl of rice soup. When the secretary-general of the organization came to pick her up for the soup himself — she has a difficult time getting around due to back surgeries after two car accidents — she was touched.

The woman, vegetable stand owner Lee Geum-an, 86, recently donated $10,500 to the foundation.

Lee, who has been running the vegetable stand in Flushing, N.Y., for 16 years, had been saving up money through the stand and through allowances she received from her children.

After moving to the U.S. to help support her single-parent daughter and grandchild in 2002, Lee has opened the vegetable stand through snow, rain and shine.

“People ask why I give away the money I worked so hard to save up, but money isn’t everything in life. I can live without money,” she said. “I just couldn’t bear that there are people who have harder lives than I do, and so I donated.”

This isn’t the first time Lee has lent a hand. In March 2010, she gave $5,000 toward helping families of those who died in the Cheonan sinking. Later that year, she gave $1,000 each in scholarships to seven students in elementary, middle and high school.

She said she wanted them to have education in the way she couldn’t, a sorrow she’s carried her entire life.

The foundation said it purchased a used Toyota Corolla with the donation to use to help transport people like Lee to Flushing’s Parksanbal rice soup restaurant, where the organization is currently running its “Sharing Hope Rice Soup” campaign. It gives out free meals of rice soup and is targeted toward Koreans who are homeless, day laborers and to those over the age of 75.