GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - A special needs center that provides services for more than 300 children has become a target for vandals and thieves.
It is located inside the former G.W. Carver Elementary School gymnasium in Gonzales, La.
The school gym might look like an old rusty building from the outside, but it is a gem of sorts to special needs children in Ascension and surrounding parishes. They spend six Tuesdays of their summer vacation there learning, playing and making new friends.
Sherrie Jenkins said her son, Braylan, can hardly wait for what is known as "Special Tuesdays."
"It's summertime. Most kids in the summer want to sleep all day. Braylan is up at seven o'clock, dressed because he knows he's going to also get things ready for all the participants," Sherrie Jenkins said.
Braylan said volunteering is his favorite thing to do.
"I get the bikes out for everybody, and I get the scooters out on Special Tuesdays," Braylan Jenkins said.
However, when Braylan and his friends return in June, it won't be as they remembered.
Pictures by the Pelican Post online newspaper show some of the destruction recently caused by vandals. They show broken windows, table top games and activity centers smashed to pieces, and a wheelchair torn apart so badly it can't be used.
When Braylan got the news he was devastated.
"It's going to be destroyed and damaged because the people that did that, they need to be arrested and put in prison because that stuff means a lot to me," Braylan Jenkins said.
What the culprits didn't damage, the owner said, they stole. Television sets, game consoles and more are missing.
Jenkins said indoor surveillance video shows what appears to be adults and teens involved.
"It was like adults watching children. Is that how you act in your own home," Sherrie Jenkins said.
Sherrie Jenkins said the center has been hit five times since last summer. She is worried if the vandals and thieves are not caught they'll do it again, and eventually cause the center to close for good.
"We need Special Tuesday to continue for children like Braylan," Sherrie Jenkins said.
If you know who might be behind the vandalism, call Crime Stoppers at 344-STOP (7867).
If you'd like more information on how you can donate to the center, send an email to email@example.com