WORTHINGTON, Ohio — A Worthington church's Christmas gift ended up freeing thousands of families of medical debt, doubling their original expectations.
The church learned of the true reach of that gift this weekend.
On Christmas Eve, Rev. Dr. Julia Wharff Piermont made the announcement of the church's intention to help during services at Worthington Presbyterian Church.
Piermont said the church's board wanted to find new ways they could make a difference with their offering money. They reached out to "RIP Medical Debt." The national nonprofit takes donations from places like churches, purchases debt for pennies on the dollar, and the debt is forgiven. The company was started by two former debt collections executives.
"They used their expertise and compassion to create a unique way to forgive medical debt," according to the RIP Medical Debt website.
The church's donation of $15,000 was expected to settle about $1.5 million in medical debt for about 1,200 families in Franklin County. The group identifies those eligible as, "households whose income is less than two times the federal poverty level guideline or are insolvent."
In an update on Sunday, Piermont said that donation ended up settling $3.8 million of medical debt for 2,942 households in central Ohio — numbers that shattered those previous expectations.
To see how many Ohio families were helped by county, click here.
"It's so obviously what our faith is about," Piermont told 10TV in December. "Our faith is about trying to make a difference, particularly to bring comfort to the poor, good news to the poor, [and] release to the captives. Debt is a kind of captivity and this is giving freedom to people."
"They will know the gift came from Worthington Presbyterian Church in honor of Christmas."
To read more about RIP Medical Debt, click here.