Midstate charity looking for help after flooding

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A community is rallying to help a nonprofit in Mechanicsburg: Pink Hands of Hope is dedicated to helping women battling cancer.

It’s a cause that’s dear to co-founder Brian Gaughan’s heart. His wife, the other co-founder, is a breast cancer survivor.

We told you last week that heavy rain flooded the couple’s thrift store basement, destroying tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise, including books, clothes, and furniture.

All of the store’s men’s and kids’ clothes were covered in water, along with the winter clothing they had stored to bring out this fall.

It was all meant to be priced and sold in the thrift store, but now it’s trash.

After hearing the news, local businesses are pitching in to help where they can, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to continue giving.

“This year we’ve helped close to 100, and last year we helped 227” patients, Pink Hands co-founder Brian Gaughan said.

Now he’s the one who needs help; he was on vacation in Florida two weeks ago when he found out.

“I was in line at Harry Potter World with my oldest daughter,” he said, “and my brother called me to say that we had three feet of water in the basement.”

That was on Father’s Day.

“I can’t even express to you in words what it was like. It was just heart-wrenching.”

Volunteers spent Monday cleaning out the basement.

Students from Mechanicsburg and Cumberland Valley high schools, teachers, and everyday shoppers pitched in. They joined Lion’s Club members and residents of the retirement community Traditions of America.

Gaughan showed us the basement. “This used to be filled with merchandise,” he said, motioning to the now-empty space.

All that’s left are puddles and the faint smell of mildew. The water destroyed a built-in bookshelf. Paint on the floor is peeling up.

But when he needed it most, Gaughan found his neighbors reaching out.

Classic Dry Cleaners offered to clean 80 wedding gowns caught in the water for free.

Ritter’s Hardware donated buckets and cleaning supplies. Best Line Equipment gave Pink Hands a water pump to keep.

Little Mario’s Pizza brought by a few pies for the volunteers. The dumpster that’s now full of merchandise was a gift from Penn Waste.

But it’s not over.

As large fans air out the store, Gaughan has to come up with the money to repair the basement. He said his insurance company will drop him if he reports it.

“We’re looking at a lot of money that we could be using to help women that are in the fight that’s now going to go to cleaning up and getting the basement back to where it needs to be,” he said.

What’s worse, he says, he lost wigs and prosthetics he gives away to women who need them. Those can’t be replaced very easily.

“That’s one of the parts that really makes me the saddest is that I’m not going to be able to help as many women because of this.”

While the basement is still under repair, Gaughan said they simply don’t have room for thrift store donations. Once everything is back in order, probably around August, the group will hold a donation drive to restock.

Until then, Gaughan said they could really use financial help. You can donate on their website, pinkhands.org, or by sending a check to 5325 E. Trindle Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.

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