UVALDE, Texas — A business out of Edna, Texas, in southeast Texas, has created caskets for the 19 child victims of the Uvalde school shooting last Tuesday.
Trey Ganem, who owns SoulShine Industries, posted on the business's Facebook page over the weekend that the caskets were being delivered.
The business wrote on the post: "Caskets arrived early this morning!! We are rocking and rolling with the help of so many!! Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to help us and to help the families of Uvalde! We will be tagging and posting a proper thank you to all who have helped soon. Thank you all from the crew here at SoulShine Industries! Continue to pray for the families and all involved."
This comes after a post on Wednesday where Ganem said he was asked to help with the caskets.
Ganem spoke to KENS 5 about the process of creating the caskets, and how he talked to each family about their kids, learning their interests to personalize the caskets.
"It hurts me to be able to do 19 kids in three days," he said. "It's unreal."
He described how each casket he creates, he gets emotionally attached to. He’s made hundreds of them over the years as owner of Soulshine Industries.
"I’m teared up now talking about it. It’s a very passionate job and not everybody can do it," he said.
His passion for helping families started after his friend passed away. He wanted to create caskets that tell stories of loved ones: things that represented them and things they’ve loved. He's created caskets with designs like Superman, Transformers, Scooby Doo and Cinderella.
“It starts the healing process, and they start talking about what they love to do and bringing up stories, and they stand around our caskets for hours talking about their loved ones before we deliver it, and who does that?" Ganem said.
After the Uvalde school shooting, Ganem said the funeral director called him. Without hesitation, he agreed to work on the victims’ caskets.
"First stop I made was one of the officers -- his wife was one of the teachers. I stopped at their home and it was heart breaking for me to talk to her husband and her daughter. But, that was the start of the whole day for me," he said.
Working on 19 caskets at once — Ganem admitted it has been challenging, both emotionally and physically. But, the community has stepped up. Friends were delivering the caskets, and people showed up from all over Texas to sand them.
"We paint the hardware, we paint the bars, match the colors of the design to the top; it’s not just a wrap," Ganem said.
He and his son worked around the clock with no sleep to personalize, and hand paint each one of the caskets.
"It brings a smile to my face because what the families have told me, and what we put on the caskets, TikTok is one of the number one logos; they want a TikTok. They love TikTok," he said. "We did a dinosaur holding a flashlight and a pickle. These are the things the families are telling us and we’re like, 'Do what?' And I’m like, 'Did I get that right?' And they’re laughing, but that’s what they loved," Ganem said.
He said that one of the students, wanted to be a marine biologist, so he customized their casket with whales and dolphins.
Another loved flowers, glitter, slime and llamas.
"It's about trying to bring some light in this dark time and that’s what we’re doing," Ganem said.
The company has previous made custom-designed caskets for the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting, the Las Vegas mass shooting and for Vanessa Guillen.