Boys and Girls Clubs get record gift

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Hundreds of children in the area will have new after-school and summer opportunities in the near future thanks to $13.5 million donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia (BGCCV).

"This is going to be a life changer for 500 kids a year," said James Pierce, CEO of BGCCV.

The donation comes from Merrill and Jaffray Woodriff and will be used to build a new club location on land behind Jack Jouett Middle School in Albemarle County.

The new club will serve up to 300 students each day, double the number that can currently be accommodated at the location inside Jack Jouett. And more will benefit during the summer months when the Albemarle location is closed.

"That's why this gift is so transformational for us, because it allows us to give opportunities for kids who may not otherwise have the chance to join the club," Pierce said.

The Woodriffs were already well acquainted with the Boys and Girls Clubs. Merrill, an educator, has served on the board for six years.

"I've seen firsthand how incredible the impact of this club has been on the community," she said.

She says she and her husband, who also recently donated $120 million to the University of Virginia to found the Data Science Institute, decided on the large donation to BGCCV to construct a new facility so that more kids in the county's urban ring could have access to the extensive programming offered at the main Charlottesville club on Cherry Avenue.

"If you walk into Cherry Avenue on any given day, you see kids who are engaged in what they're doing,” Merrill said. “And not only are they in a safe and secure environment, but they're also being enriched through coding and STEM activities and art programming, and they have an incredible reading program over the summer."

In a press release, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) COO Rosalyn Schmitt called the new club a “much-needed expansion of after-school care opportunities, particularly those who do not now have such opportunities.”

ACPS is leasing the land to the Boys and Girls Club for a dollar a year. Pierce said the new club should open by fall 2021.

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