Whittlesea Community Connections chief executive Alex Haynes is a strong believer that a little gesture goes a long way.

From next week, the support service will begin collecting donations of non-perishable items as part of the Whittlesea Emergency Relief Network’s mid-year drive.

The network of community groups and churches offers services to residents in need.

Through the mid-year drive, the network will be able to provide community lunches, breakfast programs and food hampers.

Ms Haynes said demand for relief services was growing, adding that many families found it difficult to ask for help.

“We are seeing across the board demand, but also places like Mernda or newer areas that possibly people don’t associate with hardship,” she said.

“Utility bills are a big problem … sometimes it is unusual expenses. In Mernda, some people are not eating three meals a day.

“We encourage people to make a little contribution which does mean a lot.”

From July 18-August 15, people can donate non-perishable items such as pasta, canned fruit, long-life milk and rice as well as toiletries, nappies and baby wipes to WCC, Scullin MP Andrew Giles’ office and Doreen’s Appret Cafe. Local schools, kindergartens and supermarkets will also have donation bins.

Details: 9401 6666