SAULT STE. MARIE -- It’s a not for profit that helps those in need. But after being closed for four months during the pandemic, Sault Ste. Marie Helping Hands is the one asking for help.

“This is my dream and I don’t want to close my doors just because people need the help,” said a crying Wendy Gutcher, founder of Sault Ste. Marie Helping Hands.

The Helping Hands store was forced to close for four months during the pandemic. During that time, Gutcher said they lost about $8,000. She says the pandemic was a “double edge sword” for the store. Lots of people were cleaning out their closets and donating their old clothes and household items to the store, but they couldn’t open to sell them.

“We had so much donations and we couldn’t get rid of it fast enough, so I made sure the people out here would be taken care of one way or another.” said Gutcher.

Gave donations away for free

She would place the items outside and let the homeless and less fortunate take them for free. The store still isn’t caught up with organizing all the donations and there is fear that volunteers won’t be.

Gutcher says the organization only has enough money left for the rest of the year. Then it would have to close the doors. Volunteers are worried what will happen to those who use the second hand 'pay what you can’ store.

“If this place closed down, our community would have a huge, huge huge loss," said Amanda, a volunteer at the store. "I don’t know what our community would do without Sault Helping Hands, especially in the winter."

Volunteers hope people will step up and donate to keep it open, “If you’re not here to help us, how are we able to help the ones who can not help themselves?" asked Gutcher. "I just want to say if you can just help one person a day, that's 365 people a year.”