The business is also creating coffins after Sandy Hook.
GRIFFIN, Georgia – Funerals are underway in Uwalde, Texas after a shooting at an elementary school last week. Part of Georgia will be there.
Crowds gather in their hundreds to pay tribute to the two teachers and 19 children who were killed at Rob Elementary School on May 24. The coffins for young children are customized and delivered by the Cherokee Child Casket Company in Griffin, Georgia.
The family business has been in operation since 1941, with Michael Mims taking over in 2005. He said he had heard of the tragedy on the radio and quickly turned his grief into action.
“I immediately sent a message to my son and told him ‘all hands on deck tomorrow morning,’ which would be Wednesday,” Mims explained.
He contacted Trey Ghanem of Soulshine Industries, based in Edina, Texas, to help coordinate personalization and transportation for each child’s final vacation spot. Soulshine Industries is known for giving an individual touch to the coffins and honoring life with artistic and respectful design.
Mims first met with Ghanem at a funeral director’s trade meeting and said Ghanem was reluctant to customize the coffins for children, calling the task “too heartbreaking.”
“After years of friendship, we’ve been sending him coffins for years,” Mims said. “He is very artistic, very fine gentlemen,” he said, adding that there was no better person to partner with to carry out this devastating project.
The business owner said Ghanem helped coordinate the details and the Cherokee Child Casket Company was able to create 17 crates for some of the youngest victims of the school massacre.
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Mims said he sent the coffins to order in Texas. Most of them are white, but he and his 25-year-old son also sent a red, blue and green coffin and several coffins with shades of color so that Ghanem could help them reflect the children who will lie in them.
“That’s his only goal – to take the coffins like mine and make them a little more attractive to this particular child,” Mims said of Ganem’s work. “We feel that our children deserve such a nice (from) coffin, if not better than our adults.
This is an idea he reaffirmed after December 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mims said he had provided some of the coffins even then.
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“This one is coming in 10 years,” Mims said. We sent the coffins that weekend.
Mims said that when the business started about 81 years ago, more children died, adding that infant mortality was much higher decades ago.
“Due to better health care, prenatal care, immunizations and safety issues, infant mortality has decreased over the years – which is a good thing,” he said.
However, he added that the need for his business is greater when there are mass casualties, and over the years there are fewer entrepreneurs in the business of burying children.
“I have to say that my job is difficult,” he said. “But the job of a funeral director is harder than ours.”
This time the coffins will not arrive empty. The Cherokee Child Casket Company also includes a flyer to help grieving families find community.
“Compassionate Friends is an organization, an international organization and has chapters in every state and in almost every community,” Mims said.
He explained that the leaflet is a small way to help grieving families find support from others who have experienced a similar loss.
“Mothers should not bury their children,” he said. “But it’s time for them to grieve.”