AKRON, Ohio - As a veteran of the Navy and a special education teacher for 15 years, Amy Coleman knows how to handle challenging days.
But nothing could prepare her for what happened on Jan. 22. While on the job at Akron Ellet High School, she received a text from her husband, Ronald, who urged Amy to answer her phone.
Ronald informed her that their house on Hartville Road in Rootstown Township was burning down.
Luckily, Ronald was able to grab the couple's daughter, who was home sick from school, and pull her from the home. Pets were also saved. No one was hurt.
"The fire chief told us that it was just a matter of minutes, so the fact that I still have her and my husband, that in itself is the biggest gift from God ever," Amy Coleman said.
However, the devastating blaze, which apparently started in a wood-burning stove, caused the family to lose all of their belongings.
Fellow Ellet teachers quickly decided they wanted to do whatever they could to help the couple and their four children.
They organized a shower in the school's library Friday afternoon where staff members, friends, and others from the community donated money, gift cards, clothing, bedding, furniture, cleaning supplies and other items.
Kristen Domonkos, also a special education teacher, even helped set up a registry.
"It's been very emotional for Amy too. It's just overwhelming, the community and everybody here. It has just blown us away," Domonkos said.
Students also surprised by Coleman by collecting cash in a jar for the family.
"Everyone has been trying their hardest to at least donate anything like coins, gift cards or actual dollar bills," said Dakota King, an 18-year-old senior who is dating Coleman's daughter.
The Colemans are now renting a house and plan to rebuild on their property in Rootstown.
For now, they are taking it day-by-day and remain extremely grateful for all of the generosity and support.
"It's a bump in the road and we are absolutely blessed to have enough people to carry us over it," Amy Coleman said.
Portage Community Bank is accepting donations for the family. Contributions to the Coleman Family Benefit Fund can be made at branches in Kent or Ravenna.