UVALDE, Texas -- A woman dealing with the death of her own child is bringing a message of love and support from Houston to Uvalde. Just three months after Arlene Alvarez was unintentionally shot and killed on the way to dinner with her family, her mother is putting her grief aside.
Gwen Alvarez said she drove over to Uvalde for her daughter. She said if Arlene were still alive, she would have wanted to come and help.
With an angel on their side, the Alvarez family unpacked a trailer full of donated toys for children in Uvalde.
"When my baby girl had passed away, they gifted me a teddy bear with her heartbeat. That comforted me so much. I just feel like Uvalde needs a lot of love. The moment I came in this town, I felt the grief. I felt the pain," Alvarez said.
Those are feelings Alvarez says was too familiar.
"The moment I found out it was fourth graders, man, it took me back to my baby girl. She was a fourth grader, you know," Alvarez said.
Children who should have stuffed animals in their hands carried signs as well. Alayna Borrego carried a sign that said, "I want to live. I want to study. I want to be a dentist. Don't kill me." She's 11 years old.
Borrego was a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School last year and lost a friend in the shooting.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Uvalde school shooting
"We need to change something. We need more safety in our schools. We need our government to make some laws. People shouldn't have some guns," said Borrego.
Democratic state Senator Roland Gutierrez is also pleading for gun safety laws.
"We need to learn from this. We need to learn. This can never, ever happen again," said Gutierrez.
He's been in touch with the White House and Houston Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. Sen. Gutierrez is asking for federal dollars to fund mental health care for the Uvalde community, along with gun control measures.
"The president's office has been amazing. I expect him to come over here and comfort this community tomorrow. To ask republicans to open their hearts and minds to the realities on the ground. To do something, because it is time," he said.
Gutierrez is also asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for $2 million to fund behavioral health programs at the local clinic. It's one of the solutions Abbott has pointed to, while questioning the effectiveness of gun control measures.
Many say they'd like to see that action come along with prayer and the kindness of strangers offering support. Alvarez said,
"I came here to be here for the parents. Seeing the news and watching them, it hurt me, because they are grieving. We are here to show them that we are here for them," Alvarez said.
"That makes me feel good. Makes me feel like she's a nice person. It just makes me feel like, thank you!" Borrego said.
- 'I wish this was all a dream': Mother of 9-year-old killed thanks community for support at BBQ event