Pink Hands of Hope is located on a nondescript roadway in Mechanicsburg. An oversized beach chair, painted pink, greets customers entering the parking lot.
Inside is a thrift store, clean and neatly organized. A colorful array of good-condition women’s clothing and furniture is available on the first floor with a men’s department downstairs.
All proceeds from the Pink Hands thrift store fund programs that support cancer patients and survivors.
One room is dedicated to this work. The shelves of mannequins model an assortment of wigs, which Pink Hands provides to cancer patients for free. They also have turbans and beanies, as well as prosthetics called “knitted knockers” that women can put in their bra after they’ve had a breast removed.
Men and women undergoing treatment can browse the available clothing and take home up to 10 outfits for free, because patients tend to loose and gain weight when undergoing chemotherapy.
Brian Gaughan, who founded Pink Hands of Hope over 10 years ago, knows the struggles of cancer. His wife, Lauren, had breast cancer in 2008 when their children were 9 and 8 years old. She had four surgeries over 11 months, costing them $24,000, with insurance.
“You see all this money being raised for breast cancer, and you see all these pink ribbons all over the place,” Gaughan said. “But if you’re actually going through the disease, I couldn’t find anybody that would help me.
Gaughan resolved to do just that. During Christmas season, Pink Hands helps cancer patients with children pay for presents by collecting gift cards. And about five times a year it sponsors cancer patients to help pay their treatment bills.
Pink Hands doesn’t just support patients financially, it helps them cope.
The outside wall of Pink Hands of Hope is patterned with pink handprints. Gaughan calls this the “wall of hope.” When cancer patients come to Pink Hands of Hope at 5325 E. Trindle Road in Mechanicsburg and express worry about their future Gaughan brings them outside and tells them, “Look at all these people who beat the disease before you. These are all survivors.”
Next to each woman’s handprint is their name, their hometown and the year they beat the disease. Some have beaten cancer three times. There are 110 handprints on the wall.
Earlier this month, Pink Hands of Hope celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Even though business for the thrift store has been slower than Gaughan would like, in part because Pink Hands doesn’t advertise, Gaughan proudly said, “Our business is helping people.”
Gaughan says that he has helped 2,500 people in the past decade. He is glad to have been able to touch so many lives, and gives all credit to “the man upstairs.”
“This whole thing is from above,” he said. “To help 2,500 people out of a little rinky-dink building like this, as one person, with one part time employee, it’s impossible. It’s impossible. But we do it.”