ST. CLOUD -- Local nonprofit Pathways 4 Youth is closed amid the spread of COVID-19, but the center is still in need of supplies for young people experiencing homelessness.

Pathways, located at 203 Cooper Avenue North, will continue to distribute food, hygiene products and gifts cards to youth in need every Monday and Tuesday between 5:00-6:00 p.m., according to Program Manager Bambi Holloway.

"We are not allowing anyone in the center unless there's a specific need for them to be there," Holloway explained. "We're sanitizing every day and practicing social distancing to keep ourselves healthy."

Pathways 4 Youth isn't a shelter; it's a resource center that caters to youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are either experiencing homelessness or at risk —  staying with friends or relatives, couch-hopping or in other temporary situations.

Right now, Holloway says staff members are meeting youth at the door to give them bags of supplies and stress the importance of putting proper social distancing practices wherever they may be staying at the moment.

Community members can donate items every Wednesday evening between 5:00-6:00 p.m. Holloway says, when it comes to food, simple things are best: fruit cups, pudding, applesauce, jello, canned soups and other foods with pop-tops, and prepackaged rice and noodle meals.

"We need really easy things to carry, or heat up and cook," she said.

Pathways is also in need of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and bottled water — though Holloway says they understand the community as a whole is struggling to find those items — along with money and gift cards.

"We are really critically in need," said Holloway, referring specifically to food and hygiene products. "Our supplies are diminishing significantly and quickly."

While the center will remain closed for an indeterminate amount of time, Holloway says Pathways does have a case manager working to get in touch with youth out in the community.

"We're trying so hard to be able to provide some kind of support for them so they don't feel like they're out there alone," Holloway said. "We really want to maintain those relationships so that, when we are able to open, those relationships still exist."

Pathways 4 Youth was founded in 2018, and served over 1,400 youth last year. To learn more or get involved, visit their website.

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