An 11-year-old boy in El Paso, Texas, is determined to help his home city heal after 22 people were killed in Saturday’s mass shooting in a Walmart.
Ruben Martinez is the creator of the #ElPasoChallenge, a social media challenge asking people to commit 22 good deeds honoring those who were murdered.
The boy’s mother, Rose Gandarilla, shared a photo of Ruben on Twitter as well as one of Ruben’s handwritten instructions for the challenge.
Acts of kindness can include mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, donating for families in need, taking flowers to the hospital, or writing a letter to someone telling them how great they are.
In an interview with CNN, Gandarilla said the goal is for people to “be kind to each other all day, every day.”
The plan originated when, after the shooting, Ruben said he was afraid to go to stores and asked his mom to find a delivery service instead.
“I explained to him that we could not live in fear and that people in our community are caring and loving,” Gandarilla told CNN. “I told him to try and think of something he could do to make El Paso a little better.”
My 11 year old came to me with an idea. #elpasoCHALLENGE He challenges ALL El Pasoans to commit 20 Random Acts of Kindness. One for every person that was killed in our city’s mass shooting. Let’s get this done El Paso. @abc7breaking @kels1142 @YsletaISD @EPPOLICE @elpasoisd pic.twitter.com/pvy5Q9G4f6
— Rose (@rgandarilla99) August 5, 2019
The result of that brainstorming was the #ElPasoChallenge. Ruben’s first act of kindness was to take food to first responders stationed outside of the Walmart.
“He wanted to take food to the first responders,” Gandarilla told ABC affiliate KVIA. “So, we did go to Taco Bell and I let him buy some tacos for everyone. We went and delivered them.”
The suspect in Saturday’s shooting, which also injured 27 people, is Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb more than 600 miles from El Paso. Police said the suspect drove about 10 hours to the site of the shooting and surrendered to responding police officers.
Authorities have labeled the attack a hate crime and said the suspect posted a manifesto online railing against immigrants.
At a Saturday press conference, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar said, “El Paso has historically been a very safe community. This is someone who came from outside our community to do us harm.”
The New York Times reported earlier this year that El Paso, a city with a population of about 650,000, has consistently had a lower crime rate than cities of a similar size, according to FBI data.
Ruben is determined to show El Paso’s big heart: More than 3,200 people have retweeted his mother’s initial post as of Tuesday afternoon.
In an interview with KVIA, Ruben said, “We can make the world a better place,” and added, “El Pasoans are loving, caring and are willing to do anything to help out.”