Eastside Playcentre is appealing to the community for help after a series of break-ins by vandals, together with decreasing enrolment numbers that are threatening the centre's future.
Manager Kirsty Singleton said the latest break-in occurred at the start of September.
Families arrived to discover that their outside area had been broken into, with sheds open, equipment scattered and padlocks and carabiners thrown away or stolen.
On top of the damage to property, the vandals had also wiped human excrement along a wall linking the outdoor and indoor areas, and defaced the chalkboard with "really horrible words", Singleton said
"The police said that something like that was 'next level', and really not all that good.
"They've been really supportive, and actually put a camera up in response to that.
"The day it happened I was so busy cleaning it up that I missed my daughter's cross-country, and she came first."
Singleton said three new families were due to start that morning, so parents were "desperately trying to clean everything up" before they arrived.
Despite these new arrivals, Singleton said that numbers at Eastside Playcentre had been decreasing, and they were now facing the "grim reality" that the centre may have to close if it isn't able to get "back on a solid financial footing".
"Back in the day, usually if you had kids at Playcentre they'd be there all week, but I find these days people are doing kindy and playcentre to try and also be at part-time or fulltime work.
"That's putting a bit of a strain on things, because obviously if we don't have kids there for all the days we're open then there's less funding.
There was a "big difference" between kindergartens and playcentres, Singleton said.
"Kindy has teachers looking after kids, and the parents drop them off when they can, and playcentre is all about mums and dads actually running it.
"There are different roles that have to be in place for the playcentre to run, like a president and a treasurer, and there are monthly meetings."
"It's all based on parent-led, volunteer work."
Singleton said the playcentre was appealing to the community for donations for things such as upgrading the outdoor area and playground, new equipment for indoors and outdoors, items to fundraise, and trip opportunities.
"It would be a very sad day in our community to see our centre close, especially considering how much hard work has gone into it from the day it opened back in 1998.
"It's hard to be vulnerable and reach out but we actually really need help, if we are to survive."
Singleton will be running a "hands-on chat" at Eastside Playcentre on Wednesday, October 21, at 10.30 am, alongside Kathleen Moriarty (Professional Learning & Development).
For more information on how you can help Eastside Playcentre, email eastside@Playcentre.org.nz or call 06 343 9816