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Man gifts 21 customized memorial benches to families of Uvalde school shooting victims

Man gifts 21 customized memorial benches to families of Uvalde school shooting victims

The owner of a graphic arts business was contacted to make a bench for one of the victims and he decided to make 21 benches, for free.

A small business owner from Georgia handmade custom memorial benches for each of the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in May in a tragedy that shook the nation. The community has played a huge role in helping the victims and those affected to heal. Sean Peacock, the owner of graphic arts business Jass Graphix, and his team have worked to create 21 customized benches for the victims' families to honor their memory, reported Good Morning America.

"These benches are just a little temporary, beautiful gift honoring their special, beautiful children," said Peacock. The benches were driven 1200 miles in a donated U-Haul trailer from Eastman, Georgia, to Uvalde. Having handcrafted each of the customized benches, Peacock feels a very personal connection with all of them. He is personally delivering the benches to the victims' families.



 

Peacock said he didn't have any connection to the victims but was contacted for an order inquiry by April Elrod, the mother of 10-year-old Makenna Lee Elrod. She had seen one of his benches with the butterfly design on Etsy, and Makenna Lee loved butterflies. She was even buried in a purple dress with butterflies on it. Elrod associates butterflies with her daughter. "When we go visit her at the cemetery, there's always butterflies around. We've had butterflies in our cars and our houses, everywhere we go," said Elrod. She is already planning to build a butterfly garden at her home. "I saw that butterfly bench and I thought that would be perfect, somewhere to go sit and think about Makenna and talk to her," she added.



 

Elrod contacted Peacock and requested two butterfly-themed benches, one for herself and one for Makenna's dad. Elrod didn't really identify herself but said it was to honor her daughter and provided her girl's name. Peacock was shaken after he did a Google search and realized the 10-year-old was one of the victims of the shooting. "Lo and behold, number one on the list, Makenna Lee Elrod, the same name that momma used," he said. "When I discovered that, that was the beginning of it all." Elrod had asked if she could get a discount on the bench if she ordered a second one. A bench would cost $1800. He wrote about the inquiry on Facebook and was flooded with donations to fund the bench for Makenna.



 

Peacock wanted to do more and wanted to create personalized benches for all victims. He started a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $20,000 and ended up raising over $23,000. "On the day of Makenna's funeral, I texted the mother and revealed to her what I did," recalled Peacock. "I told her, 'Your bench is paid for, for your precious child, and so are 20 more.'" Elrod was moved by his gesture. "When I'm having a bad day, he just seems to be the one that messages and says, 'We're praying for you,'" she said.



 

Peacock then reached out to families of other victims to learn more about them before creating personalized benches for them as well. Each bench has a photo of the victim at the center of the butterfly wings that form the back of the bench. It also has inscriptions from the families on the seat. Peacock and his team have been burning the midnight oil to get the benches ready. A typical order can take as long as six weeks, but for the victims, they did all 21 benches in less than six weeks combined. "There's a lot of labor that goes into this," said Peacock, adding that many volunteered to help on the project. "This is a very special, precious item in any situation."



 


Peacock said he wants to combat hate and evil with love. "That's an act of evil that occurred out there," he said about the Uvalde shooting. "What happened in Eastman, Georgia, is the opposite of that. It was an act of love, of compassion, donation and consideration. This is a story [that] continues to just be a love story."

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