When Andrey Smith saw that the family of a Bushkill girl killed in a car crash in South Carolina was accepting donations to defray the costs connected with the loss, he knew he could help.



 

When Andrey Smith saw that the family of a Bushkill girl killed in a car crash in South Carolina was accepting donations to defray the costs connected with the loss, he knew he could help.

Smith, a spiritual leader and handyman at a Kresgeville church, builds coffins in his spare time.

He decided to donate one.

"It was because she was so young," said Smith, who works at the Apostolic Good Shepherd Church of Charity.

Smith said he feels satisfied knowing that his hard work offers the bereaved a sense of comfort and reassurance.

"It feels good to know that the family will look at the casket and feel that the person in it is sent off with dignity," said Smith, 74.

The coffins that Smith builds are similar to ones he used to see at funerals in his Jamaican homeland.

Each wooden, varnished coffin takes about a month to complete. Smith has a surplus of about 20 coffins, which often go to church congregants.

In the case of 9-year-old Lucy "Luz" Torres of Bushkill, Smith said he was moved by photos of the vivacious-looking girl and by a desire to bring her family some comfort.

He knew he had a mid-size coffin made of walnut in his storehouse, so he called the girl's family.

"Her father said, 'Thank you so much. You're patching a big hole in my heart,'" said Smith, standing against a machine in his workshop, the shelves piled high with boards.

He learned woodworking on his own and builds nothing but coffins — not even furniture.

"I don't make furniture because so many people don't respect the work that goes into it," he said. "But with coffins, people treat the work with the same respect and care you put into it."

Information from: Pocono Record, http://www.poconorecord.com/

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.