Things That Matter

Texas Man Donates Customized Caskets for Uvalde Shooting Victims

Although many of the expenses for this week’s series of memorials in Uvalde, Texas, are being provided free of charge, 19 child-sized caskets for the back-to-back services was a dismaying order because it is unusual for casket-makers to carry such a large quantity of children’s caskets.

But after meeting with the parents of those who lost a child during the Robb Elementary shooting, SoulShine Industries coffin-maker Trey Ganem, 59, took it upon himself to fill the order of 19 customized child caskets by any means necessary.

“I think there were 17 at the time that he knew of, and [he] wanted to know if I would be able to help out and make sure that all these kids have, you know, some personalization,” Ganem said to BuzzFeed News. From there, Ganem and his team worked quickly, collaborating with a manufacturer to get 19 caskets — for 18 of the 19 children killed and one teacher — made in less than 24 hours.

The caskets were then picked up from a manufacturer in Georgia and returned to Texas in just 26 hours. Ganem worked with his son, Billy, and more than a dozen volunteers to customize each casket in time for the services this week. One of them belonged to Elihanna Torres, who loved llamas, TikTok and making green slime.

“She would tell me that she needed glue for school because she had a big ole project to do, and the glue would be to make slime,” said her mother Sandra Torres, in a phone with the outlet. “She drove us crazy with the TikTok.”

Based in Edna, about 220 miles from Uvalde, Ganem and his team tirelessly raced to fulfill the daunting order. “It has been an extremely emotional roller coaster for me,” said Ganem. “I don’t even know if you can hear my voice. I haven’t hollered at all, but I’m losing my voice, for whatever reason.”

Ganem went into the casket business 11 years ago after previously working as a custom car builder. Billy, 25, joined the family business in 2016.

“We’re here to try to make a hard time a little easier,” said his son. “There’s nothing we can really ever do to make it easier, but that’s our goal: to help the families … start their grieving and their healing and just try to make something special for them.”

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