Nebraska church raises $520,000 to clear medical bills
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska church has raised more than $520,000 to pay medical bills for residents in its neighborhood, ending the 14-month campaign on Easter Sunday.
An estimated 10,000 people contributed to the First-Plymouth Congregational Church effort, reports the Lincoln Journal Star.
“In my mind, it was a direct spiritual thing, you know, Jesus said, ‘love your neighbour,'” Reverend Jim Keck said. “What erupted was just generosity.”
The effort came after the Reverend Juan Carlos Huertas took on outreach efforts at the church in Lincoln, starting something called justNeighbors. The ministry focused on community connection, helping neighbors with laundry, filling their gas tanks and providing health care to people without insurance.
He and Keck then set their sights on medical bills. By acquiring debt profiles anonymously through collection agencies, Huertas had figured out how to absolve Lincolnites’ medical debt without incurring a tax burden for those receiving the aid.
The money raised ultimately helped 500 households in the Near South neighborhood. Along with fundraising, roundtables were also held on the economics of health care.
Huertas and Keck have decided that their next venture will face an ongoing mental health crisis.
“We want to be that person who shines a light on that,” Huertas said.
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