A little help goes a long way for someone in need, and the Gillespie Center's food pantry, which offers two pre-packaged bags of groceries per household on a weekly basis, allows people of modest means to stretch their paychecks in tough economic times.

However, the pantry's limited weekday hours have prevented some working families, many with children, from taking advantage of the assistance, according to Jeffrey Wieser, president and CEO of Homes with Hope.

That will no longer be the case. Homes with Hope announced this week the pantry will now be open Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. The new hours are made possible with support from Saugatuck Congregational Chuch's confirmation class, who will help distribute the groceries.

"We are expanding the hours with the hope that more people can take advantage of this local resource than can help extend budgets and ultimately prevent homelessness," Wieser said.

Homes with Hope Vice President and COO Audrey Sparre added, "Our community responds to the needs of the food pantry and by opening Saturdays, we will be able to spread that generosity to working families who simply cannot get here during the busy work week."

The two grocery bags, packed by volunteers, include, among other items, a jar of peanut butter, jar of jelly, two cans of soup, three cans of vegetables, two cans of fruit, two boxes of macaroni-and-cheese or noodles, condiments such as mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise; a box of cereal or breakfast food such as pancake mix, etc., with maple syrup; two pouches of dry milk or drink mixes, two boxes of pasta, two jars of pasta sauce, two cans of tuna, crackers and two cans of "full-meal" fare such as pork and beans, chili, etc.

"We try and pack the food so we can provide two or three solid meals for a family," Sparre said.

The Gillespie Center's pantry is open to everyone. "We ask names and ask people where are they from, but it's really just so we know where the food is going," Sparre said.

Sparre said there has been an increased effort recently to market the pantry and make poople more aware of its existence, including posting flyers through Westport's Department of Human Services, the senior center, and also the Weston Human Services Department.

"We think it [the two bags] definitely makes a difference, as far as people being able to manage their household expenses," she added.

The Gillespie Center is at 45 Jesup Road. The food pantry's weekday hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. For more information about services provided by Homes with Hope, visit www.hwhct.org.