College Station church youth group raises over $40,000 to help wipe out medical debt
“If our small youth group is able to forgive over $4 million in medical debt, imagine what an entire community could do,” Said 17-year old Alejandro Hinojosa. “If all of us gave just a few dollars, we could make a massive change in this state.”
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -The youth at Friends Congregational Church in College Station have been hard at work for the last four months raising money.
During a week-long mission trip last summer, the youth group learned about how medical debt affects their community.
Medical debt is a growing burden among Americans. According to a study by the Urban Institute Texas is ranked the fourth highest state with the most medical debt.
After learning that the financial burden often makes people choose between necessities like food, rent, or medical bills, they decided they wanted to do something about it by starting their own medical debt relief campaign.
The Friends Church youth group’s “Brazos Valley Medical Debt Forgiveness” campaign’s initial goal was $15,000. Within weeks, the 6th through 12th graders raised enough awareness about the debilitating reality of medical debt and the reach of a simple donation that they were able to increase that goal to $30k, and then $40k. As of Sunday, the youth have raised more than $42,000 — enough to relieve some $4.1 million in medical debt for our neighbors in the Brazos Valley and beyond.
Rev. Dr. Dan De Leon, senior pastor of the Friends Congregational Church says the timing of this campaign is fitting because of the Easter season. Sunday’s message was delivered by associate pastor Rev. Trent Williams on the topic of new life. De Leon says those benefiting from this debt relief will have new life.
“This youth group buying up medical debt and relieving it is helping for people to be able to have a new life,” said De Leon. “The opportunity to forgive over four million dollars in medical debt, the youth group is saying if we can do this what can’t we do?”
To make this effort possible the group is partnering with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. When someone can’t pay off their medical bills, that debt is sold for pennies on the dollar usually to a collection firm. If they can’t collect, it’s sold again to another agency. What RIP Medical does is purchase the debt at that point and with help through money raised by charities are able to forgive the debt.
The youth involved say they just wanted to do their part in making a difference in the community.
“Me personally along with all the other youth we don’t really experience the things that other people experience having to pay with like regular everyday things and so we felt that nobody else should have to worry about it,” said Kat Fouch
“I feel really proud of our youth group about the passion and the dedication that we put into this campaign,” said Ruth De Leon.
Pastor De Leon says he’s proud of the youth and hopes their efforts have a ripple effect on the community.
“I’m so proud of them, that our youth wanted to lead the way in doing something like this for people that they are probably are never going to know or meet,” said De Leon. “To lead the way in an effort that says indifference and apathy are everywhere but we can all do something if even this small to make a huge difference in this world.”
The group is not finished yet. The youth are making one final push to raise the bar even higher and help more people.
The spring fling event on April 23 will celebrate this tremendous effort and provide the Bryan/College Station community with one last opportunity to contribute to “Brazos Valley Medical Debt Forgiveness.”
If you can’t make the spring fling you can make a donation to the youth medical debt forgiveness campaign by clicking here.
Hear more from the youth of Friends Congregational Church in the video below.
Copyright 2022 KBTX. All rights reserved.