The El Dorado High School boys basketball team was recognized by City Council at the El Paso City Hall for volunteering to assist in the Walmart memorial cleanup.
City Representative Henry Rivera and the Zaragoza Rotary Club, who are leading the cleanup efforts, honored the boys and their coaches with certificates of appreciation for their service.
El Dorado head basketball coach Saul Lopez said he and the boys took a break from basketball the Monday after the Aug. 3 Walmart shooting to ensure everyone was doing OK emotionally, to reflect on being a good person and to discuss how precious life is.
“I just talked to the kids about making it really count because you never know when your last day on earth is going to be,” Lopez said. “We tell them to be the best students they can be, the best basketball players they can be, the best sons and the best brothers.”
The boys participated in the memorial clean up on Aug. 30 and said they plan to continue volunteering at least once a month.
“We want to show that we care about helping the city out,” said El Dorado junior Jaelin Domingue. “With helping keep up the memorial we want to let the victims and their families know that people care, us El Pasoans have their back.”
Lopez said they went in to help not knowing what to expect. The team saw pictures and heard stories about the victims, which was emotional, but the they came away with a sense of pride in being able to help the city. He said the experience was a powerful learning day for the coaching staff, the kids and for himself.
“The kids may not remember a game or practice, they might not remember the season, but they’ll never forget that day, and they’ll know that they helped and did their part,” he said.
As for the boys on the team, they encourage others to help and do what they can for the community.
“With what happened, most of us came together as a community because it not only affected the victims or the people who were at the Walmart, but everybody in the community. As we know, this is definitely one of the safest places in the world and for something like this to happen, we know it’s not us,” Domingue said.
Domingue said he is happy to have his family at Team SISD and his teammates because he knows no matter what he’s going through he can count on them and lean on them for support. His teammate Jarrett Wells agreed.
“We are all going to be here for each other, and we know we need to show that we care for each other,” said Wells, a senior player on the team.
Domingue and Wells hope to serve as an example for the community to volunteer and to remain El Paso Strong.
Clean up efforts began Aug. 16 with approximately 10 volunteers and over the Labor Day weekend the number quickly increased to 70, among them were the El Dorado Aztecs.
The cleanup consists of collecting and bagging wilted flowers, broken glass, and wax from melted candles. The wilted flowers are bagged separately and taken to the El Paso Zoo where they are processed into compost.
Memorial cleanups are at 6:30 a.m. every Friday morning at the Cielo Vista Walmart Memorial.