Uvalde Elementary School

Family owned business made custom caskets for young victims of Uvalde school shooting

Families in Uvalde, Texas, are in the initial stages of grieving their lost children and teachers in the tragic mass shooting that took place last week. As they begin planning these funerals, they have received an outpouring of donations and generosity from their communities and around the country. One of those has been from SoulShine industries, a custom casket company. They are making custom caskets for 18 of the 19 children and one of the teachers killed in the shooting – all free of charge.

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The Company Providing Custom Caskets For The Victims Of The Uvalde School Shooting

The small town of Uvalde, Texas is mourning the loss of 19 children and two teachers in what has been the most deadly school shooting of the decade. As the community is rallying around the families of those who lost loved ones and trying to help the traumatized survivors, various groups and companies have offered their support. The funeral homes supporting the families have offered their services for free. One of those is SoulShine Industries from Edna, Texas. They are a custom casket-making company that is making customized caskets for 18 of the 19 children and one of the teachers lost in the shooting, all free of charge. (1)

The day after the shooting, owner and designer Trey Ganem met with the families to talk about their loved ones and the things that they loved. He spoke with the families, who told him all about the things that their children loved. Sandra Torres, mother to one of the victims Eliahna Torres, said that Eliahna loved llamas and TikTok.

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“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,” Sandra told Buzzfeed in a phone interview.“She drove us crazy with the TikTok.” (2)

She explained that her daughter loved TikTok experiments. Whenever she wanted to do one, she would call her grandfather. He would go to the store, get the materials, and they would attempt them in her grandmother’s kitchen.

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“Her grandpa Victor did everything for her, so when she wanted to go to H-E-B, she’d say ‘Grandpa, I need to go to H-E-B. I need this stuff! I need this stuff!’ So she would go to H-E-B and bring back all this stuff and destroy my mom’s kitchen experimenting with everything that TikTok was telling her to do.” Sandra recalled of her daughter.

Eliahna’s custom casket includes llamas, the TikTok logo, and a splash of neon-yellow slime. It also includes symbols of Eliahna’s passion for softball.

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custom casket being made for the victims of the Uvalade massacre
Image Credit: SoulShine Industries

Getting The Caskets

Uvalde is not a big town and has limited resources. Particularly, it does not have a bulk supply of child-sized caskets on-hand – few places do. SoulShine and the community immediately began racing to get caskets for the children in-town and ready for the funerals that would be starting in just a few days.

Ganem had to order the caskets from a company in Georgia. That company worked for 20 hours straight to get the orders out on time. A close friend of Ganem’s then hired a Texas trucking company to make the 26-hour trip to Georgia and back to pick up the caskets. The delivery arrived at 2 am Friday morning, when Ganem and his son Billy immediately got to work designing them.

The father-son duo worked essentially non-stop. Though they normally work alone, Ganem says dozens of people volunteered to help out. They drove to Edna from all over the state to help them get the caskets ready on time. By Saturday morning, they were delivering the first eight caskets to Uvalde, three and a half hours away. They planned to deliver the remaining caskets the next day.

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An Emotional Experience

Ganem says that though it is a beautiful thing to be able to support the families, it is extremely emotionally draining. This is not the first time they have done something like this, either. SoulShine Industries supplied caskets to victims of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting five years ago. It never gets easier.

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“It has been an extremely emotional roller coaster for me,” Ganem said during a phone interview. “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.”

Each casket, which normally would cost between $3,400-$3,800, are being personalized to each child’s interests free of charge. Ganem knows that this in no way takes away from the grief that the families are experiencing. He does hope, however, that he can at least help them honor their child and take away some of the burdens of funeral planning, etc.

“We’re here to try to make a hard time a little easier,” Said his 25-year-old son, Billy. “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.”

“I take away something from every experience with a family because when they’re explaining stuff about their child, they light up,” Trey Ganem said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, he loved this,’ you know?”

Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the victims. May they find peace in this difficult time.

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Keep Reading: Idaho Man Quits His High-Paying Job to Build Beds for Kids Who Sleep on the Floor

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Sources

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  1. SoulShine Industries making custom caskets for young victims of Uvalde school shooting.” Fox San Antonio. SBG San Antonio. May 30, 2022.
  2. Meet The Man Personalizing Caskets For The Children Killed In The Uvalde School Shooting.” Buzzfeed News. Kadia Goba. May 29, 2022.
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