El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, are in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. They join an unenviable list of American cities shaken by gun violence. As an individual, you may be wrestling with what to do next, but there are things you can do to make a difference.

Don’t ignore it. Talk about it with your partner or friends. See what's happening in your community in response. If you want more action, reach out to your local elected officials and tell them what you think.

Give. If you’d like to directly help the communities affected by the tragedy, you can do so at this portal set up by CNN and Public Good. The current beneficiaries are three organizations helping those communities heal.

Remember. These shootings will forever be part of their story, but these horrific headlines don’t define these cities. You can help prove that by learning more about these places.

El Paso, Texas:

Sundown in El Paso, Texas The sun sets in El Paso, Texas, making the city glow. (Photo: Bill Chizek/Shutterstock)

This city of almost 700,000 sits on the Rio Grande, directly across the U.S.-Mexican border from Ciudad Juárez. Known as the home of several military bases, the biggest of which is Fort Bliss, the largest training area in the U.S. The town is surrounded by stunning desert scenery and is a key link in the El Paso Mission Trail, which pulls together the history of the area's first settlers and underscores the region's rich culture.

The area is also known for its striking geology, from the Chihuahuan Desert to the mountain cliffs that draw mountain bikers and rock climbers from afar.

Dayton, Ohio:

Dayton, Ohio, confluence of the Great Maimi and Mad rivers. Dayton, Ohio, is defined by its rivers. Here it's seen from above at the confluence of the Great Maimi and Mad rivers. (Photo: Beeline Aerial/Shutterstock)

This city of roughly 140,000 people is best known as the birthplace of Orville Wright, one of two brothers credited with inventing and flying the first airplane. In fact, the Birthplace of Aviation is one the town's mottos. Dayton focuses heavily on research and development in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, some of it springing from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Healthcare and hospitals also figure prominently in the Dayton story, with local institutions consistently ranking in the top five spots for healthcare.

This outdoorsy city is also home to Five Rivers MetroParks, a series of parks and greenspace preserved along the Miami, Stillwater and Mad rivers and Twin and Wolf creeks.

​How to help in the aftermath of a mass shooting
El Paso and Dayton are in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. If you're wondering what you can do as individual, here are steps you can take.