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Share Reaches Out

Volunteers help local residents and Katrina victims.

Last Saturday morning, Victor Kimm received yet another phone call from someone in an empty apartment.

"We had our first Katrina victim somewhere in McLean," said Kimm. "It was a family who had brought a family in and they needed furniture. We sent a truck out this morning. Our motto is an empty truck is a happy truck, let's keep it moving."

Kimm is President of Share, Inc., a 35-year-old volunteer operation designed to meet the emergency needs of the poor. As such, Kimm has been receiving more and more requests from families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

"We are starting to hear from people who are re-settling Katrina types, so if there are people who are looking around for some way to contribute, they might not have to look any further than the local charities," said Kimm.

Share Inc., which operates out of McLean Baptist Church, runs a food and clothing store every Saturday from 10am-12pm. People in need of assistance can come by and pick up food and clothing, all of which has been donated by the community. Share Inc., also operates two trucks which are used for the delivery of furniture. Kimm says that furniture is of particular importance in regard to Katrina victims.

"By that I mean beds, I don't mean the frames. We need dressers, dining room furniture, sofas - mostly we're in the basics business," said Kimm.

Former Share, Inc. President Nancy Schwartz says that many of the displaced Katrina victims are crammed into living spaces with nothing in them.

"There were 13 people in one house," said Schwartz.

IN ADDITION to helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina, Share Inc. volunteers are reaching out to those in need in our immediate area.

"There are some really poor people not very far from where we live," said Kimm. "When you are delivering furniture into someone's empty apartment you get a sense of the fact that there are pockets of poverty in our wealthy suburban area."

Seamus Liam O'Neill, a 16-year-old McLean resident and sophomore at Paul Vi Catholic High School in Fairfax, learned this first-hand through his volunteer experience with Share Inc. Four years ago, O'Neill decided to participate in Share's annual school supply drive in August.

"It was through this little hallway and there were tables in the hallway, and it just caught my attention, so every year after that I tried to make it better," said O'Neill.

O'Neill became so involved with the project that he decided to use it for his Eagle Project in his Boy Scout program.

"I liked it so much and that's when I decided to design a program where it's not just a 1-year thing. So now it's something that other places can adopt and use," said O'Neill.

O'Neill created a system to make the program more efficient. Namely, rather than just taking random donations and allowing people to take whatever they pleased, O'Neill contacted schools to find out what specific supplies students would require for the year.

"Now they walk through and everything is supplied and we know exactly what they need," he said.

O'Neill also laid out the groundwork for the program, providing specific instructions on how to raise money and how to set everything up.

"It's set up so when I go to college someone else can do it," said O'Neill.

O'Neill says the school supply drive provides supplies to students from schools all across the local area.

"I just want everybody to have a fair chance in school," said O'Neill. "And I know it's not all about material things, but if it makes them more comfortable, I'd like for them to have that."