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Heartless Thieves Attempt To Ruin Long Island Family’s Christmas

Sabolenkos Of East Patchogue Robbed, But You Could Help Raise Their Spirits

EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Grinch-like burglars are on the loose on Long Island.

Now police want your help as they hunt for the heartless thieves who stole from a struggling family just days before Christmas, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.

Cruelty at Christmas is difficult to comprehend, especially for a child.

LINK: Find Out How You Can Help

“I was bursting into tears. I couldn’t even explain it. It hurt so much that someone would do that,” 10-year-old Mathew Sabolenko said.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story

Mathew’s sister Madison is 12. They came home with their mom to discover the back kitchen window open, water running, carpet flooded, the house ransacked and their presents stolen.

“I feel betrayed, because we don’t even know them probably, and they don’t know us,” Madison said, adding when asked about some hardships that have faced the family this year, “yes, my mom has been trying to make it wonderful, and they taking it away from us, not fair.”

Their mom, Cheri, is a single mother working two jobs — a teacher’s assistant and in public relations for a magazine — trying to make ends meet. She had gone all out to celebrate this year.

“I couldn’t understand how someone could be so mean spirited. To just take everything, leave nothing behind. They didn’t even know what they were taking. They were wrapped up,” Cheri Sabolenko said.

“They took the Christmas gifts, my daughter’s birthday gifts cause it was her birthday the day before. We had family over. I still can’t believe it actually happened. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and it’s a dream,” Cheri told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs.

It was to be the first Christmas for the kids in their Habitat for Humanity home, built with pride partly on Cheri’s sweat equity.

“I put in every single weekend for 35 weeks,” she said.

Habitat for Humanity awarded the family based on financial hardship and willingness to volunteer to help build.

“We are not a charity. The motto is ‘a hand up, not a hand out.’ It’s about helping people build their lives,” said Vivian Becker of Suffolk Habitat for Humanity.

So, Habitat said it was especially difficult to see the Sabolenkos suffer.

Suffolk Police Lt. Edward Reilly is looking for witnesses, hoping thieves may be bragging about the burglary and vandalism.

Late Tuesday neighbors and a children’s foundation visited the family and donated some toys, even writing a check.

Emotions are running high, as the Sabolenkos try to make Christmas special and caring strangers offer to lend a hand.

“The kids are trying to understand, but no kid wants to see Christmas disappear,” Cheri told WCBS 880’s Xirinachs. “Now I’m stuck with bills for stuff we don’t have and I’m maxed out. I really can’t make this happen.”

If you’d like to help the Sabolenko children or other needy families this Christmas, please click here. Or, you can contact Habitat for Humanity at 631-422-4828.

Do you have something to say about this story? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • AS

    You know what, my car was broken in to and all of the gifts for my entire family, including my 6 month old son were stolen less than a week ago. You don’t see me running to the news to garner sympathy and receive charity. Sorry it happened but it happens to others too and we don’t have to exploit our children and our personal struggles to beg for replacements.

  • Lisa

    ok i really feel bad that some moron would do such a thing however,i am a single mom just struggling to put food on the table iI have a 15 yr old son who is a good kid,i do not have gifts under my tree,I cannot afford to buy anything it hurts me not to get my son anything for Christmas,Also they turned my cable off,my TV died this am! I do not have a winter coat or food for Christmas dinner,p.s. I do have a job!!! So it could be worse! Atleast ppl are helping you out I have noone but my son and I.OH the only way i have internet is because a ice nabor let me use his wi fi Merry Christmas all

  • lauren

    homes are not donated you put in over 300 hours to help build it and then pay a mortgage just like everyone else please do not comment about how habitat runs until you know all the facts , this was a tragidy to this family cheri wuld give her last penny to anyone in need

  • Marsha

    I was one of the Women Build volunteers who actually worked all of last summer to build the Sabolenko house. We all worked very hard including mom Cheri, building the single family house from a concrete slab to a home for Cheri and her two kids. Life has its mean turns in the road, but Cheri Sabolenko deserves far better. Marsha

  • Loree

    I agree with Jay….the house is in tact and the family is OK. I would consider getting a German Shepard who will protect both their home and looks after children as if they were her/his own.

    • Abt

      You agree with clueless Jay? How wonderful for the two of you!

  • pooh pooh

    All bogus claims of burglaries to get more free gifts and money –

    • Abt

      Turn yourself in already, “pooh-pooh”.

  • Dr meh

    People just in general suck. It’s in the gene pool folks, this is what the human race is. Sad for us.

  • Heather

    CBS mentioned that a Long Island based children’s foundation replaced stolen items and presents and gave them a check to purchase more Christmas gifts. The name of the foundation is The John Theissen Children’s Foundation. visit for more info or call 516-679-5098.

  • Jay

    her home was donated to her? I’d say that’s a pretty generous gift in itself. Consider yourself lucky the burglars didn’t harm your family and move on.

    • jb

      you know what jay? why dont you try not judging someone if you dont know them!

      • Jay

        I shall try

    • Chris

      The house was not donated to her, that is an error on the news reporting agency’s part. Like all habitat hownowners she put in over 300 hours “sweat equity” as a downpayment and now she pays a mortgage for the next 25 years.

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