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Strangers from across U.S. pitch in for Uvalde funerals

Floral companies donated casket sprays, others donated funeral clothing and blankets to display at each funeral.

UVALDE, Texas — Help is pouring in for Uvalde families who are burying their loved ones.

Strangers are helping cover the costs of casket sprays and funeral attire.

Some helpers are from Texas, others live on the east coast.

Nancy Burban Turner, who is making custom blankets for Uvalde families, says she understands how they feel. Her nieces were in a classroom across the hall during the Sandy Hook shooting. A teacher who died in that shooting was also her friend.

Turner, who lives in Stratford, Connecticut, works in the funeral industry. She often helps families who've lost a child.

"I feel they should have something, more than a prayer card or a memorial booklet. They should have something they can wrap around themselves," she said.

Since Sandy Hook, she's created blankets for families affected by mass shootings. She made custom images for shooting victims in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.

Turner reads obituaries and corresponds with funeral homes to customize each image. Once her artwork is complete, she sends it to a North Carolina company called Funeral Home Gifts that makes the blanket.

"They put them on the loom and they weave the blanket. Wash it, fold it, send it off. Then the funeral home gets it by 10:30 the next morning," she explained. "They put them up at the church and at the funeral visitation. Then people go up and see them. They're almost life like."

Credit: Nancy Burban Turner
Example of funeral blanket with graphic created by Nancy Burban Turner.

Turner says each blanket comes with a card for the families, but she doesn't sign her name. Should another family member want to reach her to thank her, or request another blanket, she leaves her information with the funeral home.

"One little girl Jacklyn, she was so proud that she made her first communion and she wanted to go to Paris and paint," Turner explained about one Uvalde creation. "She also wanted to be a veterinarian."

Credit: Nancy Burban Turner
Funeral blanket graphic for Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares

"How does it make you feel knowing these families are seeing your work?" we asked.

"When I'm creating it, usually it makes me cry. I feel the loss," she replied.

Cassandra Alaniz and her son, Adrian, own flower shops in Sinton and Cuero, TX. They donated casket sprays for all 21 funerals.

"For each piece, we took into consideration as to what they were involved in and the colors that they liked," said Adrian, owner of The Petal Express in Cuero. "We put these together with all of our heart."

Credit: Cassandra Alaniz
Casket sprays donated by Alaniz family for Uvalde funerals.

Adrian collected information from families' social media posts and by communicating with funeral home directors in Uvalde.

"Especially them having to travel to the funeral homes to make services for their loved ones. I thought this would be something they wouldn't have to worry about," Adrian said.

The Alaniz family worked practically 48 hours straight to finish the floral arrangements. With help from friends and family, they made their delivery Monday, just in time for the services.

Credit: Cassandra Alaniz

"The very first viewing that we were invited to go into, we went up to the casket to pay our respects. The little girl was dressed in the white dress. She looked like a beautiful angel. She looked like she was at peace," said Cassandra, owner of Alaniz Boutique Floral & Gifts in Sinton.

Another man from Selma says his family is covering the costs of funeral attire for families in Uvalde. He's also been in touch with families to customize the outfits based on the favorite color of a child who died.

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