Bargain busyness: Club keeps kids occupied after school

The Boys and Girls club might be the biggest sleeper childcare bargain in Charlottesville. How affordable? For an annual membership fee of $35, a child is eligible for up to 1,500 hours of care— a year of after-school care and summer day camp.

“The best deal in town,” says executive director James Pierce who adds that the options for keeping kids busy range from casual sports leagues to homework study groups. The Charlottesville operation is based at 1000 Cherry Avenue with an additional location at Southwood mobile home park– with full-day sessions when area schools are closed during the academic year.

“Whenever school is out," says Pierce, "we are in.”

In addition, the club’s summer Cycling Challenge recently gave a handful of teens the opportunity to train with professional cyclists for a grueling 75-mile ride in September and– thanks to corporate and individual donations– even gives the kids a new bike and gear when they complete the Challenge.

“We are not member supported—our costs are more than $35 a person,” says Pierce.

While the club receives some federal funding from its national chapter, donations make up a large portion of the club’s funding. The cycling event currently has over 350 registered riders and, serving as a major fundraiser, has a goal of bringing in $115,000.

In early August, a three-on-three basketball tournament and slam dunk contest brought some big names in local hoops to its judges table—central Virginia’s Jim Miller and Phil Stinnie, both of whom played in the NBA during the 1980s as members of the Utah Jazz and the New York Knicks, respectively. Despite the famous guests, the event was aimed simply at community outreach as opposed to fundraising.

Youngsters have a relatively recently-arrived set of resources at their disposable—the Cherry avenue center will mark its second year in October and features two computer labs, a full-size gym, a learning center, an art room, two games rooms, an instructional kitchen, a café, and athletics fields. When the mercury rises, Smith pool is located right next door.

"The club has been a huge blessing to our family," said Laura Sadikoglu. "It allows my husband and I to work and have peace of mind knowing that our kids are in a safe place after school and all summer long."

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