EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Two weeks after the mass shooting in El Paso, the Zaragoza Rotary Club began coming once a week to help maintain the large memorial that sits outside the Walmart where the deadly attack took place.
The August shooting killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others.
Omar Sepeda, a volunteer with the rotary club, says there’s been a group of 30 to 40 people that comes in the morning and spends several hours gathering wilted flowers, making room for fresh bouquets and cleaning up in order to help preserve the memorial. They begin at 6:30 a.m. every Friday. Sometimes students will also join.
“It’s very important because not only does it help us unify as a community, but it also helps us aid our community as well,” he said.
Volunteers say they’ll continue to do this until there is a site picked out by the city council to have a permanent memorial.
“For the citizens of El Paso, it’s their way of expressing their loss, their love for these people,” Henry Rivera, an El Paso City Council member, said. “We are all citizens of this community. This is the type of community we live in.”
Rivera says people constantly come in from Mexico to lay fresh flowers at the memorial as well.
“We want to keep it looking presentable for everybody to still come at all hours of the day, all hours of the night to honor them – our fallen El Pasoans and our fellow neighbors from Mexico,” he said.
The wilted flowers that the volunteers gather are recycled.
“We take them, we remove all the plastic, the rubber bands and we put them in bags,” Sepeda said. “We take them to the zoo and later turn it into compost. We dump it into the bin. All the plastic and paper are recycled.”
Sometimes, volunteers will stay for up to four hours to help clean up the site.
“Any kind of support we can get, we really appreciate it,” he said.
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