In the shadow of shock that lingered after the weekend mass shooting in El Paso, one crestfallen sixth-grader had an idea to help his community cope.
Ruben Martinez named it the “#ElPasoChallenge” and described it — by hand in a notebook — as a way “to honor the people who got killed in our city.”
The 11-year-old challenged “each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds for each other,” an act of kindness to commemorate the lives lost during the massacre.
For example, he suggested, mow a neighbor’s lawn or visit a nursing home, comfort someone sad or stressed, leave a dollar inside a vending machine to surprise the next person, or write a letter telling the recipient he or she is great.
At the time, authorities said 20 people were killed in the shooting, but two more victims have since died.
Rose Gandarilla, the boy’s mother, said Martinez has been overwrought since Saturday’s shooting.
“I explained to him that we could not live in fear and that people in our community are caring and loving,” she explained to CNN. Thus was conceived the El Paso Challenge. The goal was to encourage kindness “all day, every day,” Gandarilla said.
Martinez also had a strategy to spread the word and persuade others to accept the challenge. He passed out fliers, hung posters and promoted it on social media. His mother posted the challenge on Facebook and Twitter, where it has been shared and liked thousands of times.
“This will show the world that people from El Paso are kind and care for each other,” Martinez added at the bottom of his notebook page.