Things That Matter

5 Heartwarming Ways the World Has Come Together To Support Uvalde

The week that has passed since a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde took the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers has been one of mourning and grief for residents of the small Texas town. However, the unspeakable loss that has devastated Uvalde has been met with an outpouring of kindness, selflessness, and humanity.

Like this Starbucks barista, who traveled all the way from San Antonio to give Uvalde workers some time off…

Or when Meghan Markle visited Uvalde to donate food and pay her respects…

“I had no idea who she was. She just was carrying on a conversation like her and I knew each other for years,” said volunteer Gloria Contreras speaking with BuzzFeed News. “We were just talking about, you know, the situation and what happened what we were doing here. I told her about us giving out water to the people and feeding them.”

Markle, dressed in a baseball cap and a black mask, visited Uvalde, where she donated “two large crates” of food, drinks, and desserts for those donating blood at the emergency blood drive last week.

According to BuzzFeed News:

“She was just really sweet,” another volunteer, Georjean Burnell, 46, said. “She just kind of walked in with her [security] crew and started putting ice waters in the bucket with us and laying out chips for the people who were needing snacks before and after donating.”

“It’s funny, we didn’t even know it was her until after she left and now we’re so sad. I mean, to be honest, we thought she was our neighbor.”

There was the fleet of Golden Retrievers who were called in to comfort survivors…

And the custom casket maker who volunteered his services for free…

To offset costs, many of the expenses involved with the 21 back-to-back memorial services taking place in Uvalde this week have been provided free of charge. Among those are the especially pricy caskets that house the dead, made even more expensive due to the fact that 19 of the 21 deceased are children, and according to BuzzFeed News, “smaller caskets are rarely stocked in bulk.”

This is where Trey Ganem, from SoulShine Industries, comes in. The Edna, Texas-based custom casket designer started responding to calls and Facebook messages from Uvalde residents and those in the death care industry.

“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 that point, Ganem worked closely with a manufacturer to get all the caskets made in less than 24 hours. Then, there was a 26-hour trip from Texas to Georgia and back again to get all the caskets in Uvalde in time for the memorial services. Ganem worked closely with his son, Billy, and over a dozen volunteers to design and prepare the caskets. All in all, they produced 19 caskets — for 18 of the 19 children, and one adult.

Finally, a visit from President Biden offers a glimmer of hope for the future of gun legislation…

When President Joe Biden visited Uvalde with First Lady Jill Biden, many residents were eager to know what the President planned to do about the gun violence epidemic that’s been sweeping the nation.

During his seven-hour visit, the President made only one public remark, responding to chants from a crowd that he “do something” about gun violence and mass shootings in America.

“We will,” he said, echoing comments he made earlier in the week about the need to stand up to the gun lobbies and take real action. Biden met privately with survivors, family members of the deceased, and first responders during his trip, who are being heavily criticized by Uvalde residents based on reports that Uvalde PD were instructed to wait for nearly an hour before pursuing and eventually killing the Robb Elementary shooter.

President Biden and the First Lady also visited a memorial in Uvalde with 21 white crosses to commemorate each of the lives lost during last week’s shooting. The First Lady laid down a bouquet of white flowers in front of the memorial.

“Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas,” he said during a commencement speech at the University of Delaware, “to far too many places where innocents have died. We have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”

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