Dressed in warm slacks and a down vest, Carol Wilmot stood defiantly with her back to the office windows, now covered with large sheets of newspaper.
Wilmot, an administrative aide at the Falls Church-McLean Day Care Center, spoke slowly as she looked at the broken glass and the general mess vandals had created two nights before.
"We never considered closing [permanently]," said Wilmot. "We hated to close [Monday] . . . but what could we do? There was glass all over the place."
The Falls Church-McLean Day Care Center has managed to stay afloat for 11 years, despite constant financial pressure and two major incidents of vandalism that have nearly wrecked the budget.
The most recent incident occurred some time Sunday night. When day care workers arrived at the center at 7 a.m. Monday, they found two doors that vandals had broken through, 30 smashed windows, a bloodied curtain and debris and glass nearly everywhere.
The center is in a wing of the Chesterbrook Presbyterian Church in McLean. Five years ago, the center which serves 60 children, also suffered major damage from vandals.
Initial police investigators indicate that the vandals broke into the center through an outside door, ransacked one office and then proceeded to shatter windows with the child-sized chairs from the kindergarten classroom.
Because the vandals actually broke into the building, the incident is classified as a burglary. While acts of vandalism more often than not go unsolved, police are more confident when a burglary has occurred that the case can be solved.
"They are on the premises longer and they leave more evidence behind," said Sheila Laughlin, a Fairfax police spokesman. "This is a felony . . . and the more serious the crime, the better chance there is of solving it."
Workers at the center spent most of Monday morning contacting parents to tell them the center was temporarily closed, before starting to clear away the debris. "Our biggest concern was to reopen the center as quickly as possible," said one staff member.
By Tuesday, the center was back in business, but the problems had only begun.
Day care workers say that now, along with the normal financial problems plaguing all day care centers, they will have to come up with almost $2,000 to pay for the damage. The church insurance policy allows only $250 for broken windows.
"We are always just keeping our heads above water," said Wilmot, who handles finances for the center. "Now we have to go out and ask churches for money to help us pay for the windows."
Day care workers agree that they would rather be raising $2,000 to purchase much-needed supplies for the children.
"It's shocking," said day care director Margery Sher. "Now, in addition to asking the churches for the money we always need to keep going, we've got to ask for more to replace all the broken windows.
"I'd certainly rather spend the money on equipment for the children."