Last Friday morning at 7:30, an early staffer at the Bethesday Day Care Center arrived for work, opened the door and found at her feet a sealed white envelope with the center's address neatly typed on it. She casually threw it on the mantle in the room and went about readying the center for the 60 some pre-schoolers and elementary school youngsters who would soon be coming for their breakfasts.

The mail was delivered at noon and placed in a pile on top of the envelope lying on the mantle. Some time shortly after noon, while the day care children were eating lunch, Elva Pepper, the director of the center, grabbed the mail, sorted through it, and came to the plain white envelope.

"That's curious," shesaid. "It doesn't have a stamp."

Pepper opened the letter and found a neatly typed note. Secured in its folds was $2,000 in $100 bills.

"I sat down," recalled Pepper with a chuckle. "I let out a samll scream and everyone gathered around. We were absolutely astounded. Out first thought was 'My God, is it real?'"

"Enclosed with this letter is $2,000 in cash as a donation for use at the Bethesda Center," the note read. "The donor wishes to remain anonymous, hence the use of cash. You should know, however, that the good work you and your staff are doing is known more widely than you may think."

The note specified that the money be used for programs, special activities, needed supplies, staff attendance at workshop meetings, or "tuition grants for special hardship situations." Pepper said there was no signature on the letter.

"It sounds like someone who knows day care," said Pepper who speculates the donor may be a parent of children who arrended the day care center. "It's someone who knows where the problems are and where we are chronically struggling for funds."

Pepper hopes to use the money, which was taken to the parent organization for the day care center about an hour and a half after the lette was opened, for a scholarship fund."That's been one of our dearest dreams," she said.

Parents ho fall below a certain income level are subsidized by Montgomery County, according to Pepper. But there are parents whose incomes are too high for assistance but who still struggle to meet day care payments, she said. Fees range from $20 a week to $42.50 a week per child depending on how long the child stays at the center each day.

"We do knowof some cases where the parents needed help," said Pepper, whose day care children come from many income levels in Montgomery hold the line but we have high standards."

Pepper said the center has a $155,7400 budget, which leaves no room for scholarsip funds.