ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — This holiday season, one local grass roots group is trying to make our community safer. 

Save Rochester is putting together food baskets with at-home COVID tests to deliver to families in need. 

“What we’re trying to do is we’re really trying to emphasize preventive care, so make sure people are taking those COVID tests before they go into large crowds, young children making sure they are COVID-free before they go back into schools,” said Mike Johnson, the Founder of Save Rochester. 

Johnson said at-home tests can sometimes be hard to find due to high demand, or they can be too expensive for families. By offering family the tests for free, and delivering them, they’re taking those burdens away. 

“We’re sending the message that we’re here for the community, we understand what challenges they’re facing, and most importantly, we’re gonna try to do as much as we can to start at trying to stay ahead of some of the challenges of poverty,” Johnson said. 

Johnson said Save Rochester has a database of more than 200 clients they serve, and these baskets go out on a need-base basis.

“Those with elderly people in their family for an example, those with children, of course, we’re going to prioritize them when it comes to the COVID test. But anybody else is based on need. If they’re expressing a really dire need for food, we try to serve as a service to them as soon as possible,” Johnson said. 

Mary Jackson, who assists Johnson in his efforts, said food insecurity is a real issue in the Rochester community, which makes these baskets even more important. 

“People have insecurities, we do what we can, we make them feel like they’re part of life. We don’t badger them or look down on them. We just make sure if they come to us, we do the best we can to help them,” Jackson said. “We have to help each other. It’s a community-based thing. We have to help each other as much as possible.”

A family can order up to five food baskets per household and Save Rochester will deliver it to your door. 

Emani Gillespie, a Rochester resident and high school senior, ordered a basket for her and her family. She said she and her younger sister wanted to have a COVID test before heading back to school next week. 

“I know we have to go back to school. So, I signed up to test for me and my sister before we go back, and then you know, it’s just for my mom too I guess,” Gillespie said. 

Gillespie said it was incredible to get the baskets delivered right to their door and not have to go out to pick one up. She adds the tests don’t just help her family, but they help the greater community. 

“For everybody else, because you never know who somebody else lives with, if they have complicated health conditions, or anything like that. So just to be safer and cut down on COVID,” she said.

Johnson said they will be handing out the baskets for the foreseeable future. They hope to continue getting testing kits donated to them by the United Way so they can continue providing them to families.

“Until poverty is no more. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to save. I know sounds like a really lofty goal, but it really is a continuous fight,” Johnson said. “So, we do rely on heavily on the support from the community, because we survived about two years now with $0 in federal funding.”

To sign up to have a basket delivered, or to donate to Save Rochester and their efforts, you can click here

If you test positive with an at-home test, you’re encouraged to report your positive case on your county’s health department’s website. For Monroe County residents, you can find that form by clicking here