Nine-year-old Isaac Saldana of Tucson, Ariz., was so upset when he heard about the shootings in his hometown that he felt compelled to do something in response.
"Me and my brother were about to go walk the dog when we saw them saying on TV that a little girl and Gabrielle Giffords got shot," he told HuffPost. "I just thought, whoa! I didn't know that people carry around guns here in Tucson. It scared me a little."
Saldana said he decided the best way to help would be to gather some of his toys from home, as well as a bracelet his father had brought him after one his deployments as a U.S. Marine, and sell them at school to raise money for Giffords.
"I felt really bad about Gabrielle being in the hospital and getting shot, so I just wanted to help her," he said.
After raising a total of $2.85, Saldana put the money into an envelope with a get-well card and mailed it to Giffords' hospital room. His mother, Aracely Saldana, said she had no idea what he was up to.
"I didn't even know what was going on," she told HuffPost. "I received an email from his teacher saying she just wanted to give me a heads-up that she caught him in class selling toys, so she took his backpack away later that day. I asked him what was going on and he told me the reason he was doing it was that he was trying to raise money to send to Gabrielle."
Aracely Saldana, 30, said that when she learned her son had raised the money and mailed it to Giffords without her knowing, she was so touched that she teared up.
"For him to go out of his way risk getting in trouble to do a good thing -- that was just awesome," she said. "I was crying. I am extremely proud of my children."
A mother of three, Aracely Saldana said the death of nine-year-old shooting victim Christina Green really hit home for her because Green was the same age as Isaac. "I have a nine-year-old and, I don't know, I have no words for what happened," she said. "I can't even begin to imagine what the family is going through."
When President Barack Obama spoke about the shootings in Tucson on Jan. 12, he referred to Green's death as an impetus for the nation to "live up to our children's expectations."
"Imagine, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future," Obama said. "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -- we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."
Isaac Saldana, for one, seems to be up to the challenge.
Giffords' husband Mark Kelly told KVOA News in Tucson that he planned to "get [Saldana] his lunch money back." But the boy said he won't accept that.
"I don't really want it back," he said. "I think she needs it."
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