Brian Kelly (@brpkelly)By Brian Kelly

EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Just weeks before it opens, what will be East St. Louis’ only homeless shelter for young men got some big gifts Monday, donated by employees of the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Transportation.

Mattresses, toiletries, a washer and dryer and even dress clothes were dropped off at the Emerson Park Development Corporation, where CEO Vickie Kimmel plans to open the 20-bed facility right after the first of the year.

img 4556 East St. Louis 1st Homeless Shelter For Young Men To Open Soon

Items donated to the Emerson Park Development Corporation homeless shelter by Illinois State Police and I-DOT employees. (Brian Kelly/KMOX)

Kimmel says that while there are places for young women to go, this will be the first in St. Clair and Madison Counties for young men. She says it will give them, what they need to turn their lives around, “Food, shelter, clothing, assistance for jobs, assistance for education and hope.”

The shelter is in a former classroom that’s been converted into a small dormitory, with wooden beds constructed by corporation students and tall, slender lockers. It has a 21st bed, in a small close-sized room, for a mentor.

img 4562 East St. Louis 1st Homeless Shelter For Young Men To Open Soon

One section of beds and lockers in the Emerson Park Development Corporation shelter for homeless boys. (Brian Kelly/KMOX)

Because the former school building doesn’t have a sprinkler system, the shelter will initially only be able to serve those 18 years of age and older. However, Kimmel is trying to get a waiver from the state, so she can serve 11 to 17-year-olds.

State Police Lt. Derek Wise, who helped deliver the donated items, believes the shelter will change the lives of young men who are at a crossroads. “They still have time. So, providing that needed support at a critical time is key to turning somebody’s life around.”

Kimmel says the shelter should be ready to accept it’s first client on January 3.

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