When Trey Ganem heard about the shootings in Sutherland Springs, he jumped in his car and drove 100 miles to the mourning town.
The 46-year-old businessman didn’t come just to bear condolences. He had something more tangible to offer: coffins.
Ganem runs a casket design company in Edna, Texas, another small town east of Sutherland Springs.
His seven employees build personalized coffins that usually sell for about $3,500. He is offering to provide free custom-made coffins for the people slain Sunday at First Baptist Church. So far, he’s gotten requests to make 15 caskets.
“When I first started five years ago, children burned in a fire in Edna, Texas. I donated caskets to the family. I knew the kids” he told CNN. “It was the most emotional time in my life.”
The tragic news out of Sutherland Springs stirred up the same emotions for Ganem.
“Immediately my heart opened up and I was like ‘yes, we can do this,'” he said. “It’s a small town. People that felt like they were safe ended up in this tragedy.”
“What we want to do is start the healing process here,” Ganem said. “I want to make sure that we celebrate the lives of the people who were there.”
Ganem’s caskets are always personalized. For some of the younger victims, he plans to paint coffins with princesses and Barbie. The smallest one will fit a 1-year-old girl.
He sees his gesture as a way to help grieving families get through their darkest time.
“We want people to know that we are here for them. We are praying for these families that were affected and we will continue to.”