ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A very generous donation will benefit Albemarle County children for years to come. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia are going to expand, and now it will be more accessible to students.

Merrill and Jaffray Woodriff have donated two gifts, totaling $13.5 million toward a new Boys & Girls Club facility on the campus of Albemarle High School, Jack Jouett Middle School, and Greer Elementary School.

This comes on the heels of a new public-private partnership with Albemarle County Schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia. The new building will serve hundreds of members all year, and many will be able to walk there from school.

Merrill Woodriff has served on the Boys & Girls Clubs Board of Directors for the past six years. She's excited this expansion will help serve more children who need a place to go for support and fun.

"If you walk into the Cherry Avenue club on any given day, you're seeing children who are engaged in their learning they are in a safe and secure environment. They're not only receiving extra homework help but they are also receiving incredible enrichment programs, STEM programming, art programming and we are now going to be able to do the same kind of programming in over the county,” said Merrill Woodriff.

Part of one gift will also provide long term funds to serve children's future needs around central Virginia. This new center is expected to open in time for the 2021 school year.

06/17/2019 Release from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia:

Charlottesville, VA, June 17, 2019 - Following last week’s exciting announcement of a public-private partnership with Albemarle County Public Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia (BGCCVA) is proud to announce that Merrill and Jaffray Woodriff have donated two gifts totaling $13.5 million toward the building and operations of a new, free-standing club facility on the campus of Albemarle High School, Jack Jouett Middle School, and Greer Elementary School. Part of one of their gifts will also provide long-term funds to serve the future needs of youth in BGCCVA’s service area, including the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Madison, and Orange.

The new club facility will serve 500 members each year (300 daily) through after-school and all-day summer youth development programs. Many will be within walking distance of the club due to its proximity to public schools. The long-term funds make it possible for the club to plan with certainty and continue to attract and retain high caliber staff and offer the best possible programs to members.

Since 2005, the Woodriffs have supported Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia, where Merrill has served on the board of directors for the past six years. Their primary interest continues to be allowing for a safe and supportive place for all kids, especially those who need us most, to flourish during out-of-school time. The Woodriffs have long recognized the growing out-of-school-time needs of area kids that have been identified by area public schools, local law enforcement agencies, and other youth-serving organizations.

“We are so thankful that the Woodriffs came to us, even before we asked them, in December, 2016, with their first gift of $4.5 million, and then again in December, 2017, with their second gift of $9 million,” said Boys & Girls Club Board President Sandra Thomas. “As visionary investors in our club and community, Merrill and Jaffray offered their support during the conception phase of this project and gave us confidence to pursue a public-private partnership with Albemarle County Public Schools. We are overwhelmed by the Woodriffs’ generosity and honored by their trust.”

“We are happy to stand behind an organization that does so much for children and families,” said Merrill Woodriff. “As a former teacher, I have seen firsthand the importance of providing young people with high quality programs and positive role models outside of the school environment. This is something the club does every day, and Jaffray and I are proud to play a part in the effort to reach even more children.”

“Merrill and I believe, just like the Boys & Girls Club does, that every child deserves the opportunity for an education and the chance to succeed,” said Jaffray Woodriff. “We also recognize that gifts such as these represents an investment in our community at large, as we work to build the next generations of citizens and the leaders here in the Charlottesville area and beyond. Finally, while we are proud to make this investment in the club and in our community, we also recognize the extraordinary need that exists here, and encourage others to join us in our efforts to improve the lives of kids, and ultimately, of everyone, in our community.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia CEO James Pierce agrees. “The Woodriffs have an exceptional understanding of the important role the club plays in the lives of kids who need us most. Their extraordinary gifts also highlight the significant and ongoing need that exists in our communities. Through such transformational gifts, the Woodriffs are making an important statement about the power we all have to make a difference by investing in the lives of young people who can make a difference in our community and in the world.”