ENCINO — In an odd way, the vandal attack at the West Valley Little League's ball field helped the league more than it hurt it.
Teenage vandals ransacked a supply shed, leaving $2,500 in damage, but the league has already gathered about $10,000 in donations--enough money to fix other nagging problems at the Encino field.
Coach Joe Bua said after a report about the vandalism appeared in The Times last week, the league received some free construction work, baseballs and various food donations, in addition to monetary contributions.
Police believe the damage at the field was the work of a teenage tagger crew eager to make a name for itself. While on a vicious destruction binge a few weeks ago, the taggers broke Coke machines, ripped off doors and stole equipment.
A few Times readers have questioned what the group will do with the surplus funds. Calabasas insurance agent Gary Warner contributed $2,200 and wonders where the money will go. Not to worry, Bua said.
The coach said the money will help pay for fences, backstops, plumbing, ice machines and sign-up fees for students in need.
"We never had any money to do any type of repairs in the past," Bua said. "So we will use this money to do whatever we were behind on in the past."
As for concerns about the league spending the money wisely, Bua responded: "I think it's great that people are following up and are curious about where their money is going, and if they have any questions they can come down and look at the books themselves."
Little League officials said once money is donated to a team or a particular section of their organization, it is up to the team to decide what to do with the money.
Merle Sanders is the district representative for the national Little League office and oversees most of the San Fernando Valley. He said the league is a nonprofit organization and that parents from West Valley have been particularly dedicated, often struggling to raise enough money to keep the league running smoothly.
"I am satisfied that any type of contribution will be used to help the children," Sanders said.
Warner said he was pleased with the news that his donation would still be utilized for the baseball team.