Strausstown, PA -  The last Thursday of the month is fast approaching, and that means Laurie Rhoads is preparing to distribute pet food and other supplies at the Conrad Weiser Food Pantry.

The monthly pantry hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, 108 S. Robeson St., Robesonia, partners with Rhoads, director and founder of the nonprofit Wellness Center for Pets & Their People in Strausstown to provide pet food and other supplies to those in need.

There is just one problem: Some of the center's cupboards are bare.

"We are in desperate need of canned and dry cat food," Rhoads said. "It is a real need now."

The Robesonia pantry is the biggest of the area food pantries that partner with the center.

"We typically distribute 750 pounds of pet food and treats monthly in Robesonia," Rhoads said, "and more than 1,800 pounds of pet food monthly."

The center also partners with the Pine Grove and Schuylkill Haven locations of the Schuylkill Food Network, Veterans Coalition Stand Down for homeless veterans in City Park, Keystone Military Families on Main Street in Shoemakersville and opens its location at 87 Main St., Strausstown, to coincide with Strausstown's Zion Blue Mountain United Church of Christ's food pantry on the third Thursday of each month.

Rhoads began helping area agencies collect and deliver food, clothes and toiletries several years ago. The more involved she became, the more she learned about the needs of local people and their pets.

"Some people will spend their last dime taking care of and feeding their pets," she said. "They will feed their pets before feeding themselves."

She founded the wellness center to help pets and their people and achieved nonprofit status in March. The outpouring of donations and support from the community since then has amazed Rhoads, who said "I put out a plea, and people step forward."

Often the most generous are those who have known need, she said.

In addition to pet food and supplies, the center accepts and distributes gently worn clothes and unopened toiletries. Items in top demand include personal hygiene products, such as tooth brushes and paste, soaps, feminine products, baby diapers and toilet paper. The center distributed 200 rolls of toilet paper last month at the Conrad Weiser pantry before running out, Rhoads said.

"This is just people stepping up to help other people," she said. "Everything is donated. All I do is organize it."

To donate pet food or other supplies or for more information about the Wellness Center for Pets & Their People, visit www.facebook.com/WCPPHF or call 717-675-4136.

Food distribution for the Conrad Weiser Food Pantry is the last Thursday of every month. For information about distribution or volunteering, please call the food pantry at 610-693-8313.

Contact Michelle N. Lynch: 610-371-5084 or mlynch@readingeagle.com.