GRESHAM, Ore. -- Many in Gresham who know Whitney Heichel, and others who have never met her, are ready to help find her.
Friday night police were asking them to keep away from the search scene, so they were doing whatever they could to raise awareness.
At the Real Time Coffee Chop in Gresham, Mandy Hutchinson changed the sign on her reader board. Instead of advertising pumpkin lattes it now reads “Bring Whitney Home.” It also advertises the tip line phone number. Whitney applied for work at Real Time and stopped for coffee nearly every day. Her parents are regular customers too.
Hutchinson said she can’t believe Whitney is missing. “Its surreal. I can’t even think about it. My heart aches for her and her family,” she said.
Even strangers feel that way. At the Gresham Locksmith store, Whitney’s missing poster reminds customers to be on the lookout. Employee Kalen Hannigan has a son the same age as another missing person, young Kyron Horman. He feels the need to help too.
“We’re all human beings. We all live in this same world together," Hannigan said. "We’re all connected and no matter what some people try to say, there’s a lot more good in humanity than bad.”
The sentiment runs deep at the Olympic Gym. Sara Budge gets updates on the search from friends even as she works out.
“She could be any of us. This is our community," she said. "And you want to make sure that in our community, as a whole, you stand up for each other and you keep each other safe, and you keep things like this from happening.”
Without the ability to help in the search, many in the community were left helping the only way they could: with their signs and their hope.
“We just want to get her home safe,” said Hutchinson.
Timeline: The search for Whitney Heichel