Vinicks help make new Boys & Girls Club possible after fire

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Fire ripped through a building under construction in Clair Mel, east of Tampa on the night of December 2, 2016. Sheriff Chad Chronister said people from the neighborhood cried that night.

But kids from Clair Mel were all smiles Tuesday as they played in the new building that rose from the ashes.

"It's been quite the journey," said Chris Letsos, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.

The new Jeff and Penny Vinik Boys and Girls club was dedicated with the Viniks in attendance. 

"We may be located downtown. We may be building our development downtown, but when we think of our objectives, we want to touch lives and improve this whole area," said Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and developer of  Water Street, the planned redevelopment that will bring massive change to Downtown Tampa.

The Vinik Family Foundation donated $2.5 million dollars for the new Boys and Girls Club in a community where many families living in poverty.  

Officials say 1,000 children a day will be served with after-school programs, help with homework, and other activities. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will also assign a deputy to the club.

"We'll put a deputy here to work out with them, help them with their homework, and play with them. That mentoring, that positive relationship will continue forever," said Chronister.