Formerly homeless ‘Contributor’ salesman donates to wildfire victims

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There are thousands of generous people who donated to the families affected by the Tennessee wildfires, and money is hard to come by for many of them.

But one local man who donated was homeless until just a several months ago.

News 2 spoke with Mario Martinez who says he saw the destruction and had to do something.

For years, he has sold papers for Nashville’s homeless newspaper “The Contributor.”

Two years ago, we spoke with him after he’d saved enough money to buy lawn equipment and start his own business.

And just earlier this year, we spoke with him again after he saved enough for a down payment on a home. It was his first home in more than five years.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Martinez said that while watching news coverage of the Gatlinburg wildfires, he understood what the victims were going through.

“They lost their businesses. They lost their homes, and Bear and I… we can relate to that,” he told News 2. Bear is his Great Pyrenees. “We lost our business. We lost our home. That’s how we fell on hard times. Not to the extent that they have, but we can relate.”

Martinez said once he heard there was going to be a telethon, he decided to go out and sell more papers for the sole purpose of giving that money back to the victims.

It took three days to raise $100 selling “The Contributor,” which he then turned around and donated.

“I know it’s not much, but I’ve learned that every little bit helps. I just hope that we could put a little dent in their suffering,” Martinez said.

Click here for continuing coverage of the Sevier County wildfire.