Businesses, organizations and individuals can become community partners by adopting a family, donating items such as laundry and dishwasher detergent, toothbrushes, restaurant gift cards, or by making a donation.
Contact Chris Wilbur at Sharewishes@gmail.com to sponsor a client or family.
Share of McLean raises $50,000 this holiday season to give clothing, toys and gift cards to approximately 250 families in need in McLean, Great Falls and Pimmit Hills. Families are invited to a holiday celebration in December.
“I can not think of a better way to spend the holidays than to spend all the months to prepare this program and then see the clients at the party, old ladies dancing, children opening gifts,” said Chris Wilbur, the holiday program chair of Share of McLean.
“To me, that’s the true spirit of the holidays,” she said.
More than 50 volunteers serve around 640 individuals in need who live in McLean, Great Falls and Pimmit Hills areas.
“I love talking to the kids and hearing what they are doing in school, what sports they play, and what character they dressed up as for Halloween,” said Lisa Waldow, a volunteer.
Waldow has lived in McLean for five years.
“It never occurred to me that there are so many families struggling to make ends meet. It was surprising to see the other side of the coin. All of my other volunteer work in McLean has been fundraising, and our community is very generous. I think a lot of people are simply unaware of this huge need in our midst.”
“Many people don’t realize that in one of the wealthier communities in the United States, we have so many needy people right here,” said Wilbur.
SINCE 1969, Share of McLean has provided emergency assistance to the less fortunate in McLean and Pimmit Hills and Great Falls.
Programs include family emergency financial assistance; distribution of food and used clothing; recycled furniture; and transportation services for seniors.
Share also provides clients with grocery gift cards and gifts during the holidays, refurbished computers and school supplies.
Share is an all-volunteer organization, so they are able to say that 100 percent of donations go to the direct benefit of their clients.
Food Pantry and Clothing Rooms are open Wednesday and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon in donated space at the McLean Baptist Church, 1367 Chain Bridge Rd.
AROUND OCTOBER, Share of McLean shifts into high gear for the holidays.
“We definitely have volunteers that come back year after year. Starting in October, we get emails saying, ‘Remember me?’” said Wilbur. “For everybody involved, it just makes Christmas a little brighter.”
Share clients turn in holiday wish lists in October, and Share passes the wishes to the faith communities, schools, local businesses and generous individuals.
Many wish for gift cards and grocery gift cards.
“For some people, they think giving a gift card is impersonal, but for our clients having choices to pick toys for their children and a pair of pants for them, that’s part of the gift,” said Wilbur.
“If someone needs bedding, they can ask for the appropriate size and a favorite color. A single mom can ask for gift cards for her children and then she can select gifts for her children that she knows they will love. Many elderly people just ask for grocery gift cards because they don’t need stuff, they just need a little help making ends meet with their food budget,” according to Wilbur.
The holiday program team needs to raise about $50,000 yearly in donations, as well as procure assorted gift items.
Victor Kimm, of McLean, remembers the end of one party when Share volunteers were approached by a woman who said her husband was dying. All she wanted was to be able to stay in her house to honor her husband’s request. “She said the help we gave her enabled them to stay in their home,” he said. “Every year, we hear stories like that.”
SHARE hosts a party, which will be held Dec. 12 this year. One volunteer plays the piano for four hours throughout the party; a Santa and Mrs. Claus cheer children while a volunteer photographer takes photos for moms and dads to cherish.
“People love to volunteer at the holiday celebration,” said Wilbur. “You start out with an empty gym and in the course of two days, it gets completely decorated. We have ladies that make the centerpieces, we have a man who plays the piano for four hours without a break. It’s amazing.”
And much of the community gets involved.
Just for instance:
Franklin Sherman Elementary School has a yearly mitten tree.
Haycock Elementary classes adopt families.
Each year, businesses, such as McEnearney Associates Realtors, adopt families for both Thanksgiving and the December holidays, and Child’s Play Toys generously helps Santa fulfill his extensive toy list.
Giant Food has a wish tree and toiletries drive and provides around 350 reusable bags for Thanksgiving and the Celebration.
Trinity United Methodist and St. Thomas Episcopal have angel trees.
Rodef Shalom collected Thanksgiving grocery gift cards.
McLean Baptist provides grocery cards for Thanksgiving and various gift cards for the holiday celebration.
New Dominion Women's Club fulfills wishes and bakes cookies for the celebration.
First Baptist donates gifts cards for the holidays.
Immanuel Presbyterian donates gift cards for the holidays
Langley High School Key club fulfills wishes for teens.
McLean High School Leadership provides homeless kits.
McLean Crew Club has a gift card drive at the MHS holiday bazaar.
Many scout troops volunteer and hold drives to collect baby items or toiletry drives.
Rotary Club is providing most of the food for the celebration as well as volunteers.
McLean Preschool gathers baby items for Share’s tiniest clients.
Share Programs: By the Numbers
About 1,000 volunteer hours per month are needed to maintain programs, so Share of McLean is constantly recruiting new volunteers. Share is an all-volunteer organization with no paid employees, no office and no paid fundraisers. Operations are run by about 35 core volunteers and another 200 occasional volunteers.
Share of McLean was established as a non-profit corporation in 1969 by a coalition of McLean faith communities to meet the emergency needs of the poor in McLean, Pimmit Hills and nearby areas of northern Virginia. It now serves Great Falls families in need. Share receives no government funding and is dependent solely on the generosity of private donors.
Share served 1,500 households and 4,030 family members in some capacity during the 2015 fiscal year. Clients are best described as the working poor and include economically distressed families and individuals, seniors living on limited pensions who are often facing medical problems, impoverished immigrants, recently homeless folks and victims of spousal abuse.
The Family Assistance program with Share’s crisis intervention program pays bills to cover short-term needs such as rent payments to avoid evictions, utilities payments to ward off service terminations and prescription drug emergencies. Share responded to more than 995 calls for assistance and provided $144,776 of financial assistance to households, containing about 2709 family members. During these activities, Share of McLean works closely with Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services program.
The Food and Clothing Programs, operated in donated space at the McLean Baptist Church, provided households in need with about $389,200 of “foodstuff.” During the year, Share provided 11,120 bags of groceries and 3,200 bags of clothing to clients. About 174 families visited the food pantry and used clothing room each month.
Pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables were distributed from mid May to early October through Share’s Fresh Produce program because of efforts at a combination of community gardens at Lewinsville Park, six faith-based community gardens in McLean, and local gleaning at area farms. Share joins the efforts of Fairfax County to improve the nutritional substance of food donations distributed through facilities located within the county to families in need. Share also procured fresh produce and frozen meat from the Capitol Area Food Bank to supplement supplies for food room.
The Furniture Exchange program made 297 deliveries of furniture last year to more than 250 households. The beneficiaries of the furniture exchange are indigent even though many of them have jobs, disabled, formerly homeless or victims of spousal abuse. Share owns two trucks with which volunteers pick up usable furniture from donors and deliver it to individuals and families who cannot afford to buy furniture. Nearly all of them are referred to by county social workers and nonprofits.
Share and its Family PASS program supports three families previously referred by us to Family PASS, which support families in need of in-depth assistance with family counseling, housing stabilization, budgeting and job training. In conjunction with these referrals to Family PASS, Share provides adjunct monetary support to Family PASS.
Computers and 40 printers have been refurbished in Share’s Refurbished Computers program to give to families with with school-aged children.
Share conducts year-round food drives through local schools, religious communities, local businesses, service organizations, and the local Post Offices through which individuals provide virtually all of the non-perishable foodstuffs for distribution through our food room to eligible client families. More than 300 volunteers signed up to organize, conduct, and process these food drives for Share.
Pounds of bread and pastries from participating supermarkets were delivered to the food room, local shelters and other charitable organizations through Share’s Baked Goods program.
The School Supplies program provided approximately $7,500 of new school supplies to meet the classroom and school specific supply lists for 124 students including calculators for local middle school students whose families could not otherwise meet these important needs.
In the 2015 fiscal year, Share received $291,943 in cash and gift certificates donations from participating religious communities, local service organizations, corporations and individuals.