Sixth-grader Ruben Martinez started the #ElPasoChallenge to inspire kindness in his community and honour victims of the shooting.
11-year-old from El Paso is backing kindness to help his community heal after mass shooting
Ruben Martinez was "having some bad anxiety" after the shooting at Walmart on Saturday that left 22 dead and 24 injured, his mom, Rose Gandarilla, wrote on Facebook. Together, they came up with an idea to help heal their hurting community: the #ElPasoChallenge. On Sunday, Martinez challenged everyone in El Paso to do 20 good deeds — one for every victim of the shooting as of Sunday. The death toll rose to 22 on Monday.
The #ElPasoChallenge: here’s how it works
11-year-old Ruben Martinez is challenging each person in El Paso to do 22 good deeds for others — one for each of the victims shot and killed when a white supremacist began firing Saturday inside a Walmart.
Ruben even offers suggestions for acts of kindness
You can mow someone’s lawn, visit a nursing home, pay for someone’s lunch or dinner, donate to families in need, write someone a letter and tell them how great they are, hold the door for everyone, take flowers to someone in the hospital or leave a dollar on the vending machine for the next person, the young boy suggests, among other ideas in a list of "kind acts" examples.
The point is for people to "be kind to each other all day, every day," his mom, Rose Gandarilla, said. Her son’s idea, she said, came after Ruben told his mom he didn’t want to go shopping at stores anymore, asking if they could find a delivery service instead.
"He was having some trouble dealing with what happened," his Mom told CNN.
"I explained to him that we could not live in fear and that people in our community are caring and loving. I told him to try and think of something he could do to make El Paso a little better."
So, Ruben went to his room on Sunday, brainstormed and came up with the challenge — and he’s already leading the way.
"Last night, he agree(d) to go out to do his first act of kindness," Gandarilla said Monday. "He chose to go deliver dinner to our first responders."
The young boy and his mom have been to multiple places — Walgreens, Barnes & Noble and Sprouts — to spread the message.
"He seems to be doing better and says that hopefully, the world will be a better place with all these random acts of kindness."
Help the Communities Dealing with the Shootings in El Paso and Dayton
In a single deadly weekend, separate mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton killed 31 people. Dozens more were wounded in the attacks that left two cities reeling. As victims’ families struggle with the anguish and confusion, organisations are mobilising to assist. You can help those affected deal with the tragedy through the organisations listed here. You can help by supporting the families of the victims with a donation or by sharing this link with others.