HUDSON -- A Jan. 9 gas explosion which ripped the roof from a Coventry Township home in southern Summit County has forged an unexpected bond of friendship between the family and students in Hudson High School's drama program.
Gabriel and Angie Hailey, two of their daughters and Angie's brother were home when their home exploded, causing the ground floor to drop into the basement and the roof, which was torn off in the explosion, to land back on the home and crash into the basement. The family also has a daughter who was not home at the time.
"They all got out, but basically the home turned into a fireball within minutes and everything was lost," said Cassadra Capocci, Hudson High School fall play director. "In speaking to another family member, she told me they basically got out with the pajamas on their back. That's all that was left."
Capocci heard about the explosion from a friend and wanted to help and contacted the Drama Club students.
The Coventry Fire Department circulated a list of clothing sizes for the family. The sizes were comparable to the drama students, Capocci said.
Capocci asked the students to "raid their closets" and if they did not wear the needed sizes, think about what was needed each day to get ready for school, like shampoo, deodorant, hair spray, curling irons, makeup and a variety of other items, she said.
"My husband [Sergio Iriarte] is currently directing the children's play and as he brings items home from the students I distribute them," Capocci said.
Iriarte, the Drama Club advisor, also asked his wife to find out if the family liked theater. He wanted to invite the family to the children's play to help them relax for a while.
The answer surprised Capocci.
"It was very bizarre," Capocci said. "I even got goosebumps."
It turns out the Hailey daughters all attended Miller South, a performing arts school, when they were younger.
"The family is a huge arts family," Capocci said.
One of the daughters found out about it and laughed, reportedly for the first time since the fire, Capocci said.
The students have been asking about the types of shows and movies the family enjoys, hoping to help replace some of their lost collection of arts related items, including CDs, posters and art supplies.
"The students are not just going through their closets, they are asking what they like," Capocci said. "It speaks volumes to me about what kind of students our Drama Club students are."
The students donated about 10 bags of clothes to the family as well as a variety of other items to help with the coping.
Students even removed some wardrobe items which were going to be sold, sending them instead to the family, Capocci said.
"They [the students] have really gone above and beyond," Capocci said.
While the family has enough clothing for now, the students have been collecting money for gift cards so the family can go to dinner before or after the play.
"We've been talking about doing a fundraiser cabaret or karaoke night," Capocci said. "We are kind of in the process of seeing how we can fit that in."
According to Capocci, donations also will be collected at the play.
"Everything was lost," Capocci said. "These kids lost their computers, televisions and things we all take for granted."
Capocci said the students are trying to collect items that are up beat and happy. One student who has graduated, brought a bag of items from her parents store on First & Main for the family.
"These kids are so amazing," Capocci said of her students. "We [Sergio and I] are just so proud of what they do and are continuing to do. It's just incredible."
Parents have even donated a variety of items to help the Hailey's, which included a purse, books and toiletries.
Capocci is hoping those attending the Feb. 10,11 and 12 performances of the children's play will bring an extra dollar or two to help this family which is still without a home.
They are really going above and beyond for this family they don't know and have never met," Capocci said.
Hudson High School Principal Brian Wilch said he is proud of the students for helping out a family in need.
"Needless to say, I'm so proud of our students who, collectively through their affiliation with the Drama Club, want to organize their efforts to help a local family in need," Wilch said. "That says a lot about our Drama Club students; it says a lot about our student body as a whole."
To donate or find more about upcoming plays, email Drama@hudson.edu.