A Greensboro-based nonprofit that works to help children and families is getting a major donation. The Children's Home Society of North Carolina says it's the largest gift in its 120-year history.

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who is divorced from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $8 million to the organization.

Officials with the Children's Home Society of North Carolina say the gift came as a surprise and it couldn't have come at a better time. The organization just launched a five-year strategic plan.  The focus is continuing to help children find their permanent, safe, and loving families.

Children's Home Society of North Carolina Vice President of Philanthropy Kristen Brown Smalley says the gift will also help them expand on work to help keep families together. That includes the intensive family preservation program, which provides education, counseling, and other resources.

“We have had a fantastic success rate with that program," says Brown Smalley. "A year after service, we have 97% of the families are still together and intact and so we figure that that is about 1,500 children each year who don't go into foster care.”

The Children's Home Society of North Carolina serves more than 15,000 children and families each year. Brown Smalley says one of the biggest needs right now is recruiting more foster families.

Billionaire MacKenzie Scott has also donated large gifts to other nonprofits in the region over the past couple of years, including $10 million to the United Way of Greater Greensboro and $30 million to Winston-Salem State University.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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