This story has been updated.
Many of Newtown’s grieving families are looking to a local funeral home to lay their slain relatives to rest, but the Connecticut town’s sole undertaker can’t do it alone.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, never,” Daniel Honan, director of Honan Funeral Home, told the New York Daily News. “We added staff to meet the demand and do what we do.” (Honan later clarified to The Huffington Post through a spokeswoman that he is taking on only volunteers, not hired help.)
In the coming days, Honan Funeral Home will bury 11 of the 26 victims shot and killed after a gunman opened fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning. While Honan and his staff have been working around the clock, the Daily News reports, performing such heart-wrenching tasks as masking the bullet holes in children’s bodies, the sheer number of burials is far too much for his outfit to handle. So a number of generous donors have stepped forward to help.
Major casket companies across the country have donated child-size caskets, Laura Soll, communications director for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association, told The Huffington Post. Soll said that there has been such an outpouring of support that she would be “so surprised if somebody has to buy a casket.”
A Texas woman, whose 2-year-old daughter recently died of cancer, offered to pay for the caskets for all 26 victims killed on Friday, KWWL reports. Trappist Caskets in Dubuque County, Iowa, wanted to take the unidentified woman up on her offer. But when Trappist called Honan Funeral Home on Saturday, the generous offer wasn’t needed, Sam Mulgrew, manager of Trappist, told The Huffington Post.
“We wanted to honor the spirit of the request made by our customer,” Mulgrew said of his decision to reach out on behalf of the Texas woman. “We’re not in the business of pushing our product on anybody.”
Seasoned funeral professionals in Connecticut are also offering up their time, services and expertise.
The Connecticut Funeral Directors Association, a group that represents 220 funeral homes in the state, got together to figure out how to offset the pressure its colleagues are facing in the wake of the Newtown massacre, the Associated Press reports. The organization plans to offer caskets, hearses, staff and other necessary resources to help. According to Soll, 150 funeral directors are volunteering their time and expertise at about half a dozen funeral homes in the area.
On Saturday, 10 funeral directors from the surrounding areas pitched in to help Honan with both logistical and emotional challenges, according to the York Daily Record.
"It's great. It's wonderful," Honan’s wife, Colleen, told the York Daily Record of the assistance. "We have my husband and his associate. There's no way we could have done this. There's just no way."
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify the staffing decisions of Honan Funeral Home, as well as to include comment from Laura Soll of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association and new information and comment from Sam Mulgrew of Trappist Caskets. It also corrects a report from KWWL that indicated Trappist Caskets was donating 26 caskets and collecting donations for the initiative. That story and an earlier version of this article based on that story were inaccurate, as Trappist made the offer, but it was declined.