SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – One local church in Springfield is spreading the joy of giving, long before the holiday season kicks off.
Red Tree Church has had its doors open for nine years, but started a ‘Give it away’ campaign just a year into their existence. Thus far, the group has supported Ashley’s House, Arc of the Ozarks, AIDS Project of the Ozarks (APO), Victory Mission, other homeless shelters, and a school in Nicaragua.
Their largest contribution came earlier this year when the church partnered with Rip Medical Debt (RMD) and raised $1.1 million in tithes and online donations to help people erase their medical debts.
According to their website, RMD has relieved over $5.1 billion in medical debt and projects that 79,000,000 Americans will choose between having to pay their medical bills or basic needs for food and shelter. RMD estimates that due to high medical costs, one in two Americans will not go to see a doctor when they are ill.
Rip Medical Debt has helped 2,884,125 families since they began, and often partners with churches, synagogues and communities. However, anyone can donate at any given time.
Red Tree’s $1.1 million donation was divided and helped families in both Missouri and Arkansas.
“As far as money goes, God owns it all, clearly,” Red Tree Pastor Chad Mathes said. “But, we want to give it back to the community and not just keep it in our own four walls. Not just for utility bills, not just for maintenance but utilizing funds to actually reach into people’s lives. Sometimes it could be a dime on a dollar, sometimes a penny on a dollar.”
The church raised over $25,000 in just one Sunday offering. Pastor Mathes says that he advertised his efforts in previous church services and made a hard push to get the job done. Every penny received in-person and online donations go to organizations of Red Tree’s choosing.
“We don’t do ‘big asks’ often, but when we do, we want it to mean something and be valuable,” Mathes said.
Pastor Mathes said the church hopes to localize their relief efforts next year and focus more on the Springfield area.
“We’re hoping that next year, our church will literally be able to pay off medical debt right here in our backyard,” Mathes said. “This is an ongoing event that we are looking forward to. I think Covid made everyone aware of the amount of problems, issues, struggles and maybe even financial debt. Some people, maybe they didn’t have debt before but now they do. We wanted to be able to lean into that and help.”
Last year, Red Tree took members from their church and helped missionaries build a school in Nicaragua and donated multiple computers. The group also provided funding to fill approximately 1,700 cavities for orphans who needed dental work.