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Local youth group starts relief fund to help families in medical debt

Posted at 7:25 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 20:25:23-04

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The youth group at Friends Congregational Church has partnered with rip medical to help relieve families in the Brazos Valley of medical debt.

While on a mission trip last summer, the youth group learned how they could help raise millions for medical debt relief and were inspired to help their community. For each dollar they raise, it is equivalent to $100.

"They have access to these debt portfolios that are typically sent to collection agencies and a lot of times aren’t going to be paid off and they have the opportunity to reserve those portfolios and allow people to fundraise so that those can be paid off,” said Brooke Dooley, pastoral intern, Friends Congregational Church.

They have now raised over $40,000 towards the Brazos Valley medical debt forgiveness fund and it continues to grow.

“They were compelled by something they learned which is how easy it can be to forgive medical debt by working with a non-profit called RIP Medical Debt based in New York," said Dan De Leon, senior pastor, Friends Congregational Church. "They found out they could buy up medical debt for pennies on the dollar and simply forgive it.”

After partnering with RIP Medical, the youth group founded the Brazos Valley Medical Debt Forgiveness fund.

“They received donations very quickly and that prompted them to say 'you know what, let’s raise the goal to $30,000' and they hit that a few weeks ago, so they said 'let’s raise it to $40,000' and they hit that a few days ago," said Pastor De Leon. "So now, they have raised the goal to $50,000 hoping to hit that by the end of the week.”

The youth group is excited to get out the word about their early success.

“One of the ways they were showing their progress was by creating this giant syringe and every week, they could go in front of the congregation and mark this is how much we raised and this is how much more we raised and eventually, it just went beyond the top,” said Dooley.

Pastor De Leon reminded us how medical debt impacts so many lives.

“That burden is placed on people who 9 times out of 10 can spend their whole life paying off that debt or never be able to pay it off and either way, they are stuck in cyclical poverty, having to choose between buying groceries for their family and their household or paying off medical debt that seems to never go away,” said Pastor De Leon.

Seeing how many people were in medical debt inspired the youth group to take action.

Texas is the fourth highest of people with medical debt in the country and first highest in the number of people who are uninsured," said Pastor De Leon. "And with that lack of a safety net, the youth group recognized how precarious that is and the need for their neighbors to come in and say look we got you, we can do this. There’s no need for people to be struggling in that kind of burden when it’s this simple.

The youth group is planning to wrap up their campaign this weekend and hit their goal of $50,000 at their event, Spring Fling, where you can also help donate.