Among the casualties of Frances' heavy rains was the Helping Hands thrift store in Inverness. Parts of the ceiling collapsed, showering the interior with water and insulation material. Much of the merchandise, especially clothing, was covered with mildew and needs to be thrown out. And the store must find a new home. The shop associated with Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church combines proceeds with donations from parishioners to help needy residents with food and utility bills. The thrift store opened roughly four years ago in a strip mall on Inverness Boulevard off U.S. 41 S. If you'd like to make a monetary donation, especially to give poor families a Thanksgiving meal, or help provide retail space, call volunteer Mike Rizzo at 637-9611. The store also urgently needs a large trash bin, donated or rented, for disposal of the ruined merchandise. Volunteers have been carting it to the church bins.
George Ouellette, a volunteer at the Helping Hands thrift store in Inverness, pauses while helping to clean up the store Friday. The ruination of most of the items puts a crimp in one of the shop's main missions: raising money for Thanksgiving food baskets. Every year, Helping Hands distributes them to 100 to 120 families.