Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Robbed of presents, given gift of Christmas

Nearby school for deaf shows family humanity

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FIRST came the tears after thieves broke into a Crestview home and stole a family's presents from under their tree.

Then came the tears after staff and students from a nearby school came by with an unexpected sack of cash collected during a school concert.

Trina Cimino, 44, said she was blown away by the more than $600 gift organized by the Manitoba School for the Deaf after thieves made off with the family's goods Dec. 19.

"You just forget the love that's around you... I think it just reminded me that we're very lucky, we're a very lucky family that we have so many supports," said Cimino, who lives in a Stradford Street home with her husband and two kids, Kevin, 8, and Sarah, 11.

The thieves kicked in the door at their home -- knocking it off its hinges -- before stealing more than $20,000 worth of items such as jewelry, electronics and Christmas gifts.

Cimino contacted the school hoping someone had noticed the criminals on her property.

She believes the home was targeted during the day and there were multiple footprints and tire tracks found outside.

The school -- which is tucked away in a quiet residential neighbourhood -- has about 60 students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, or have relatives who have hearing problems.

After an email went out to staff about the break-and-enter, people wanted to help out.

School principal Kathy Melnyk said one of the staff members suggested collecting money to give to the family.

The school's holiday concert happened the day after the theft.

"Our concert is kind of unique in the sense that a lot of the deaf community members come, even though they don't have kids in the performance," said Melnyk, who added a staff member co-ordinating the concert told the crowd what had happened to the family and hats were passed around.

The night of Dec. 20, there was a knock at the Ciminos' door.

Outside the home stood Melnyk, as well as two students and others heading home from the concert.

The group delivered $675 collected at the holiday concert.

"I think it also just shows how strong the deaf community is in its generosity. I was shocked myself by how much money we collected. I wasn't expecting that at all," said Melnyk.

"I think we were kind of thinking if we got a couple hundred dollars that would be great, and when we found out it was over $600, we were pretty shocked."

Cimino and Sarah, who has taught herself some sign language, signed 'thank you' to the group.

The morning after the concert, a teacher at the school arrived at the Ciminos' home again, this time with gift cards for a toy store. The woman's young son had heard about the theft and wanted to make sure they helped the family, too.

The Ciminos haven't determined what will happen with the money yet.

Cimino said she's grateful for the kindness shown by the school's students and staff to their family.

"They reminded us not to concentrate on the break-in and that there is so much love right across the street in our own community," she said.

Police said Friday there have been no arrests in connection with the break-and-enter.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2012 B1


Updated on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM CST: replaces photo

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