El Paso sixth grader Ruben Martinez invites people to do 20 random acts of kindness, one for each person killed in the mass shooting.
In the aftermath of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, one 11-year-old boy is taking steps to help his community heal. Ruben Martinez, with the help of his mother, Rose Gandarilla, has started the #ElPasoChallenge on social media, inviting everyone in the city to do 20 random acts of kindness - one for every person that was killed when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in the city over the weekend. At the time, authorities reported that 20 people had been killed in the incident, but two more have died since then. Gandarilla shared a photo of her son on Facebook and Twitter, explaining the purpose of the challenge. According to CNN, Gandarilla explained that the idea came about after her son approached her saying that he was anxious about going shopping in the future. "He was having some trouble dealing with what happened," she 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." The next day, Martinez presented her with the idea for the #ElPasoChallenge.
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
Martinez listed out several examples of kind acts one could do to fulfill the challenge. You can write someone a letter "and tell them how great they are", you can hold the door for someone, leave a dollar in a vending machine for the next person, pay for someone's meal, or do any other random act of kindness that you choose. Martinez also suggested ways to convince people to participate - passing out flyers and posting on social media in an effort to spread awareness. "This will show the world that people from El Paso, Texas, are kind and care for each other," he wrote. And the message has been spreading - Gandarilla's original tweet has been shared almost 5000 times so far.
Gandarilla told CNN that she and her son have already begun their mission. "Last night, he agreed to go out to do his first act of kindness," she said on Monday. "He chose to go deliver dinner to our first responders." The duo has visited multiple public places including Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, and Sprouts to spread Martinez's 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," Gandarilla said. Several social media users from within the state as well as other places have taken up the challenge, pledging to do 20 or 22 acts of kindness in support of the El Paso community.
After the #ElPasoShooting, 11-year old Ruben Martinez had an idea.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) August 6, 2019
For each victim killed, he would commit a random act of kindness.
When others found out, they joined in. People are now doing it across America.
Goodness can be viral, too.#elpasoCHALLENGE
A 21-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection with the shooting, reports say. The Department of Justice is treating the El Paso mass shooting as a case of domestic terrorism and is "seriously considering" bringing federal hate crime and federal firearm charges which carry a possible death penalty, said US Attorney John Bash at a press briefing on Saturday.