Thursday 1 December 2022
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Church Seeks Community Support for First Food Drive

Staff report

Beyond the Sanctuary president and executive director Carmen Allen with board member Clara Sizer prepare boxes of food for distribution. Provided photo

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church’s Beyond the Sanctuary organization is hosting its first holiday food drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 6 in the parking lot at 549 Clarissa St.

BTS, which began as a food pantry and a community resource in 2017 for residents in Rochester’s poorest neighborhoods, plans to collect and distribute 1,000 holiday food baskets in November and December.

“The holiday season is a time of year to reflect on our blessings and to share them with others if we can,” said Carmen Allen, president and executive director of BTS. “As BTS continues to see an increase in the number of individuals and families who turn to us for help, we’re counting on the kindness of our community to support our goal of providing holiday meals for families to enjoy.”

BTS is collecting non-perishable food and pantry items such as gravy in cans or jars; canned cranberry sauce; boxed potatoes; applesauce, canned fruit and vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and green beans; marshmallows; cake mix and frosting; muffin and bread mix; stuffing mix; canned or boxed broth; ready-to-bake pie crusts and canned pie filling; canned soup; macaroni and cheese kits; and rice.

Donations of non-perishable traditional holiday foods can be dropped off at the church. BTS will include the donated food items in holiday baskets for individuals and families in Rochester and Monroe County.

According to Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, BTS is a community service organization that serves residents of Rochester and Monroe County through programs and services, including a weekly food pantry, clothing closet, rental assistance program, job readiness success program, and more. With the help of volunteers, BTS addresses the physical and emotional challenges of poverty and hunger in a collaborative, compassionate and dignified manner and helps community members move from assistance to become self-sustaining.

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church was established in 1827 and is said to be the oldest African American church in the city of Rochester and Monroe County.

For more information about BTS, go to, or follow Beyond the Sanctuary on Facebook.