A Washington state church has gathered over $300,000 in donations that will go to forgiving the medical debt of families in over six states across the Northwest area.
Christian church organization Valley Real Life, together with New York-based charity RIP Medical Debt have come together to raise funds that will relieve medical debt of Northwestern families in the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Northern California and Utah.
Every year, the church raises funds through its "Joy to the World" holiday fundraiser, in which proceeds benefit various nonprofits and communities struggling with education, health, poverty, and more.
This year, Valley Real Life decided to help relieve medical debt as an act of kindness towards Northwestern families who have been severely impacted by crushing hospital and healthcare bills, which is why they teamed up with RIP Medical Debt.
Founded in 2014, RIP Medical Debt is run by Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico, who previously worked as debt collection executives. The charity works by purchasing medical debt on the debt collection market then forgives the debt. The charitable organization pays about $1 for every $100 of debt that they purchase. The idea of founding such a charity organization came about when the founders observed social activists protesting income inequality back in 2011, the Associated Press reported.
Valley Real Life's initial goal to relieve medical debt of Northwestern families was $200,000, but during their "Joy to the World" holiday fundraiser, they were able to surpass their goal and still continue to receive donations. Some donors are even those who have had their medical debt paid off and wanted to give back to those who made a positive impact on their lives.
Valley Real Life outreach pastor Steve Allen told FOX News, "We have seen that due to the burden of medical debt people have been unable to take a next step in their lives due to poor credit scores, financial crisis, and unpaid bills, and those things have paralyzed thousands of families across our region."
Allen also shared that as the church raises funds to relieve medical debt for Northwestern families, RIP Medical Debt is projecting an amount of about $30 million medical debt to be forgiven. It's a huge amount that will benefit families who are struggling, especially during the difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"To more than double what we did last year in a really difficult season, I think it's really just reflective of what God is doing in the hearts of people," Allen told The Spokesman Review. "I think it's also reflective of what's happening in the church culture and the community culture of people just wanting to care for one another."
Northwestern families who will have their crushing debt forgiven are set to receive notification letters in late March or early April. Allen has expressed his gratitude and admiration for those who have generously shared their resources, including their time and finances to support the wonderful cause.
"It's an extremely worthwhile cause, reaching people when they're at the no-hope stage. Well, here comes hope," he said.