Texas family-owned business created custom caskets for victims of the Uvalde school shooting



A family in Texas is donating 19 custom caskets to the families of victims of Texas school shooting. The family business is providing personalized caskets for children and a teacher killed from the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Trey Ganem of SoulShine Industries met with the families to learn about the interests of each of the children so he could hand-paint customized caskets that embodied their spirit. Some of the designs include superheroes, TikTok and dinosaurs. "Being able to go to the homes is something that is very emotional for me," said Ganem, reported CBS News. "It is not a box anymore. It is a beautiful creation that represents the loved ones."



Trey Ganem and his 25-year-old son worked in tandem to get the caskets ready in time. Trey Ganem also sourced help from many other kind souls including his friends, graphic artists and a trucking company to help transport the caskets. They hardly got any sleep over the Memorial Day weekend as they worked to get the caskets ready. "There were so many unique caskets that we did for these families," Ganem told NBC DFW, channel 5, a Dallas Fort Worth TV station. "We did one with a dinosaur holding a flashlight and a pickle. And when the families are telling us, we're like, 'Wait did you just tell me of a flashlight, dinosaur and a pickle?' and they giggle, but for whatever reason, it was very special to them." Billy Ganem, Trey's son, told BuzzFeed News. “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.”


The Texas Funeral Directors Association first contacted Garem about making custom caskets for the victims, reported CNN. "We don't just put a vinyl wrap on top. We actually custom paint every single one. We take the casket completely apart, and we paint the hardware, we paint the bars," said Ganem. "The class and the passion that we put into these is bar none." SoulShine was "asked to help with the caskets and talk with the families," Ganem wrote on Facebook. "This is something no family should ever have to deal with. My love and emotions are already there." Of the 19 caskets, one will be for a teacher who gave her life trying to defend her students. The personalized caskets usually cost thousands of dollars but Ganem sponsored the costs because he felt it was the right thing to do. Each of these caskets cost in the range of $3,400 to $3,800. This is also not the first time he has customized coffins for victims of gun violence. He provided custom caskets for victims of the 2017 mass shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and in Las Vegas. The first victim laid to rest was 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, who was carried in a personalized silver casket into Sacred Heart Church in Uvalde. The majority of the people attending the funeral wore purple, Amerie's favorite color.
After Garem and his crew completed the caskets, they all looked at each other and started crying. "They all turned out beautiful. We did 19 caskets in three and a half days. But it was just a relief," he said. Garem's passion was to customize and rebuild cars, but he switched to casket making after a close friend of his died. He wanted to make a custom casket that captured his life and spirit. He has since been making caskets, he said in a 2016 interview. “It’s the most important time of a family’s life, the most tragic, the most important and we try to make it as perfect and as personal as we can," said Garem. "It’s a blessing to see a family with a smile on their face at a tragic time."



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