For Jane Coffey Christmas shopping is a year-long task. She usually begins accumulating presents in early January.
"I get bargains that you wouldn't believe," said Coffey. "I go to Hechts, Macy's and Lord & Taylor, and I watch the papers very closely for sales and coupons."
Coffey is a volunteer for Share, Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of families in McLean, Great Falls and Pimmit Hills who are experiencing financial difficulties. For the last four years, she has been volunteering as a shopper for Share's annual Christmas Store. Using donation money, Coffey spends the year buying clothes and household goods, which are then added to the Christmas Store where Share clients are able to "shop" for presents for their families.
"I feel like I am helping the needy," said Coffey. "I am retired, so I am happy that I am able to give my time and do this."
Coffey says she frequently finds herself in line at Tysons Corner with "so much that I can't even hold it all."
"The store clerks have been absolutely wonderful," said Coffey.
Warner Sinback is a former president of Share, and has been with the organization since its inception 35 years ago. Sinback still remembers how the Christmas Store came into being.
"This young ... lady was picking up her food in our food room, and as she was about to leave, one of the [Share] ladies wished her a Merry Christmas, and the woman just broke down crying," said Sinback.
When the Share volunteers inquired as to what was wrong, the client informed them that she did not have any Christmas presents for her family.
"The ladies were so moved that they took her out shopping and bought presents out of their own pockets," said Sinback. "So we discovered, here is an un-met need."
Since then, Sinback says the annual Christmas Store "has mushroomed."
"It's one of our big events now," he said.
McLean resident Joan Morton has been volunteering for the Share Christmas Store for the last four years.
"I think it's especially good for the kids," said Morton. "When you see a mother who says 'oh I don't need anything for myself, just a few things for the kids,' it feels good."