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11-year-old starts #ElPasoChallenge to help heal community after shooting

A sixth grader in El Paso, Texas wants his community to smile again. Two days after the shooting, his simple message is bringing some hope.

After a mass shooting rocked the city of El Paso on Saturday, an 11-year-old boy has started a movement to bring his community together again.

Ruben Martinez took to Facebook to spread the word about his #ElPasoChallenge, an act-of-kindness initiative in response to the attack that occurred at a Walmart over the weekend.

The shooting, which is being treated as “domestic terrorism,” claimed the lives of 22 and injured 24 people.

The sixth grader is asking each person in the Texas city to do 22 good deeds — one for each person who lost their life — for others.

READ MORE: 9 killed, 27 injured in Ohio during second mass shooting in U.S. within 24 hours

“This will show the world that people from El Paso, TX, are kind and care for each other,” Martinez ended his handwritten note.

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He preceded his heartwarming message with suggestions for good deeds, from mowing someone’s lawn and paying for someone’s lunch or dinner, to visiting a nursing home and bringing flowers to someone in the hospital.

His mom, Rose Gandarilla, said her son was having issues dealing in the aftermath of the shooting. She told CNN that he wanted to find a delivery service to avoid going into stores.

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“He was having some trouble dealing with what happened,” she explained. “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.”

Martinez and his mom have visited different stores, from Walgreens to Barnes & Noble, to get the word out about his challenge.

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“Last night, he [agreed] to go out to do his first act of kindness,” she told the publication. “He chose to go deliver dinner to our first responders.”

It seems like his challenge is already gaining momentum.

One woman shared a photo of two drinks to Twitter, writing: “Act of kindness #1 getting a drink for a coworker!” #ElPasoChallenge.”

“I accept — The wisest of people are sometimes the very youngest. We can do this,” another wrote.

Martinez’s movement seems to be expanding beyond the borders of El Paso, too.

“Austin stands with El Paso & we will be spreading the [love] here,” a Twitter user wrote. “Thanks to both you & your son #ElPasoChallenge.”

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“We need more people like Ruben! I accept this challenge,” another said.

According to El Paso Police Dept. Chief Greg Allen, a male suspect from Allen, Texas, is in custody.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca