Casket Designer Works to Bring Sutherland Springs Families Peace

A company that makes customized caskets has offered to build caskets for the victims of the shooting in Sutherland, Texas free of charge to their families.

Trey Ganem of Trey Ganam Designs runs a small shop in Edna, Texas, about two hours from Sutherland Springs. He knows some people from Sutherland Springs who went to the Baptist church. He hopes to lift a small part of the burden for the victims’ families.

“This is something we want to take off their hands. And hopefully, it will be something for them to celebrate about.”

And that is just what Ganem, his assistant, Tiffany Sublett, and several volunteers have been doing. His shop is filled with detailed coffins – there is one painted like the Texas state flag; another like a Louis Vuitton bag; and another painted like a bright red ’57 Chevy, complete with working headlights, reports NPR’s All Things Considered.

Ganem is photographed standing next to a bright pink, sparkling coffin being assembled for a little girl who was among the 26 victims at the First Baptist Church.

“Her dad just said, ‘That’s my princess,’.” Ganem is building her a princess coffin in line with his uplifting philosophy – she will be celebrated in death just as she was in life.

“When most people see caskets, they see death. Our caskets, you see the life of the person that’s in it.”

Nathan Rott/NPR

Ganem and Sublett have been in communication with funeral home directors and the families of the deceased. They ask questions about things like favorite colors, movies, and pets. They are careful to make sure the details of the victims’ names and personalities are correct.

Ganem says that the attack in Sutherland Springs hit close to home.

“I had just got finished from helping some of the Las Vegas victims and, you know, I just left that. And to come back here and think this is Texas, a small town to hear [about the attack] was just unreal.”

Maggie Rivera drove from San Antonio with her husband to volunteer their help.

“The first casket they gave us was a little 4-by-6 one, and in the corner over there, there’s the little toy from Cars – Mater – and Mickey Mouse and that’s my son’s favorite. I just had to take a moment to sit back.”

Her husband, Michael Rivera, paints cars for a living. He grew up in Sutherland Springs and was shaken by the news.

“I’ve never painted a coffin before in my life,” he says.

“I know that’s for a 6-year-old little girl. And that’s hard to even imagine. For lack of better words, it just sucks. It’s for a little kid at the beginning of their life.”

Those working and volunteering are hopeful that their efforts will aid families in the process of healing. Doing something positive helps them work through their own grief surrounding the situation, as well.

Ganem is doing amazing work. You can donate here to help Trey Ganem Designs as they work to provide coffins to families who cannot afford funeral expenses for their children.