A group of vandals flagrantly thrashed a Christian school last week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, causing more than $50,000 in damage, with the criminals going as far as pouring milk and spilling paint all over the nonprofit facility.
Showers of Blessing Christian Academy (SOBCA) Director Britnay Ewald said every window on the school bus was shattered, the walls were covered with graffiti, bookcases and desks were overturned and toilets were broken.
“A lot of the parents were shocked,” Ewald told The Sun Sentinel. “They were asking what they could do to help. It was pretty heart-breaking for us."
Pointless destruction …
SOBCA Athletic Director Chris Ewald noted the destructive and cruel nature of the vandalism.
“They even poured out all of the milk from the refrigerator,” Ewald pointed out to the local paper.
The damage made in the overnight bombardment was noticeable from the street and rendered the school inoperable the next day.
“The vandalism was first noticed when a few church members drove by the property and saw that the school’s windows were missing,” the Sentinel’s Joe Cavaretta reported. “[After] Fort Lauderdale police … gather[ed] evidence … classes were canceled [that morning] so teachers and other staff could clean up the mess and board up the windows.”
The school director indicated that unteachable conditions and safety concerns kept students at home.
“We had to cancel because we had glass everywhere,” Britnay Ewald stressed. “None of the classrooms were ready for a learning environment or instruction. It’s happened to us before, but not to this extent.”
The vandals didn’t skip a beat, making sure to leave their mark of destruction on every classroom.
“All of the school’s 10 classrooms were left with significant damage, such as shattered windows, knocked over books shelves and graffiti,” the local news station WSVN-TV reported. “The vandals spray-painted ‘haha’ and profanity on the walls. Pricey laptops used by students, surveillance cameras and toilets were also broken. Over in the school’s cafeteria, food was thrown on the ground and milk was left out to spoil.”
Because small footprints were detected at the damaged property, the owners suspect young children are the culprits.
“We built this for our community, our kids, and just to see it destroyed this way is very heartbreaking,” Britney Ewald expressed to WSVN. “We’re just trying our best now to cope to see where do we go from here.”
Vandals turned what should have been a blessing into a tragedy.
“The family behind the school said they run it as a neighborhood alternative for families to enroll their children for free,” WSVN’s Vanessa Medina and Jeff Lennox explained. “Staff members at the school were supposed to be getting ready for graduation this week, but instead they will be spending their time rebuilding.”
God will overcome …
The school’s head is confident the school will recover, but she is broken over how much the destruction is setting students back.
“It’s absolutely atrocious. It’s terrible,” Britney lamented, according the television station. “I can’t say at this point, but we will get through. It affects my students – our children – and that’s what bothers me the most.”
Her husband could not understand the malicious act either.
“They just destroyed the property,” Chris Ewald – who is also a teacher at the school – told the television station. “It’s a lot of hate for no reason. We’re a faith-based school. We’re a church. We put God first. We love everybody, so for somebody to do this to us – it hurts.”
The school serves 136 students from kindergarten to the 10th grade, and many are distraught after being set back by the pointless damage.
“I love my friends, and I love my school,” student Jayla Somaya shared with the station. “It’s a disaster.”
SOBCA teacher Sylvester Flowers remains confident that God will somehow work miraculously through the situation.
“Now, we just got to lean on God and know that He will get us through because it will work out in His favor,” Flowers told WSVN.
Agape Worship Center Media Director Tyson L. Brooks – whose church oversees SOBCA as a ministry for the community – is eagerly waiting to see what God has planned to sprout from the tragedy.
"Through this tragedy, we know God has something on the other side of this test," Brooks – who is also a worship leader – wrote in a Facebook post, according to CBN News. "Though our faith be tried we will remain faithful. SOBCA really does love these children – OUR children – and won't stop giving them the love they need."
Money is being collected for the school to get it back up on its feet via an Internet campaign, which gave a more detailed description of the extent of some of the damage on the property.
“Paint was dumped on the floors, there w[ere] some knocked out light fixtures, the cameras were all pulled from the walls and spray painted over,” the GoFundMe page for SOBCA reads. “They also sprayed obscene language and gang profanity on the windows of the classrooms. They entered the bathrooms and broke the tops off the toilets. They trashed each classroom, destroyed teacher files, student work, and left holes in the classroom walls – no supplies for our students to continue out the year or to have for the next upcoming school year.”
As of Monday morning, the campaign has only collected $8,500 of its $50,000 goal since it started in the middle of last week.
A $3,000 reward is being offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the apprehension of those responsible for the vandalism.