As citizens of El Paso, Texas, continue to mourn for the lives lost during the mass shooting at Walmart, community leaders have stepped up to make sure that families will not have to concern themselves with funeral costs.
Angel Gomez, who works with Operation H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Endure) in El Paso spoke with ABC News about the sad reality of arranging funerals for loved ones lost in such a brutal manner.
“I kinda shed a couple tears yesterday as we were making arrangements for the funeral directors, getting them together, pulling them together,” Gomez told ABC News.
Gomez said the funeral directors quickly decided that they would cover all costs associated with preparing funerals.
“They agreed. It doesn’t matter the number of people. We will go ahead and take care of these people,” Gomez said. “I just want the people to be at ease here in El Paso — family members of the victims — that there will be no cost for their funerals.”
Thousands attended a candlelight vigil in El Paso on Sunday in memory of those killed in Saturday’s mass shooting.
Bells rang for each victim—along with an additional ringing honoring the victims of the Dayton shooting. https://t.co/7eozmuVLrD
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) August 6, 2019
Gomez said the funeral directors were not concerned with how many funeral expenses they would incur.
“It doesn’t matter the number. How high it goes. They will all be covered,” Gomez said, relaying the funeral directors’ responses.
“Operation H.O.P.E. El Paso is all about partners we can never do anything alone,” a post on Operation H.O.P.E.’s Facebook page reads. “We are now participating with all funeral homes in El Paso Martin Funeral east & west, Sun Set Funeral home, Perches Funeral Home, Hillcrest, Rest lawn, Mt. Carmel to help the families that have suffered a great loss today.
“Thank you to these amazing people that have stepped up to join our efforts to help those in need in our community. We pray for those who have been through such a horrible event but know you are not alone.”
Gomez, who said he and a friend came up with the idea for H.O.P.E. over 20 years ago, has had his fair share of experience in arranging funerals for families in need.
“We have done funerals in the El Paso community and in New Mexico for a number of years at no cost to the families,” Gomez said.
But funeral preparations of this size and magnitude is a first, even for Gomez.
Some of the bodies will be embalmed and transported to various cities in Mexico, he added, also at no cost to the families.
— Nightline (@Nightline) August 6, 2019
As acts of unity and kindness have emerged from this caring community since the shooting, Gomez said that El Paso citizens are still very much in shock.
“It’s so hard to come up with the words,” Gomez said. “El Paso is such a passive, quiet, city. You know what I mean? We have a beautiful time here.”
During such a tragic time, Gomez, along with the rest of his community, are striving for unity — a strong, resilient El Paso that will carry this shared wound with courage and love for one another.
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