RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond community organization is campaigning to raise funds to wipe away $3.4 million in medical debt across central Virginia. To do it, they need just $19,000.

The Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) is a Richmond-based community organization that’s been operating for more than 20 years, supporting residents in a myriad of ways. Now, they’re hoping to free residents from the burden of medical debt.

“This effort we’re going into… it’s intended to help cancel or abolish debt for individuals and families who have medical debt living within a big swath of Virginia,” said Breanne Armbrust, Executive Director of the NRC.

To do that, they’re working with RIP Medical Debt, a national non-profit that has assisted in similar efforts by churches and local governments across the United States.

Because of the way debt is handled in America, eliminating $3.4 million in medical debt will cost just a little over $19,000. That’s because this debt is often sold to collections companies for pennies on the dollar.

RIP Medical Debt and the NRC will work together to buy a swath of debt here in Virginia, and instead of collecting on it, simply send a letter to the debtors letting them know their debt has been wiped away.

“There are going to be thousands of people helped that we will never meet,” Armbrust said. “As a matter of fact, we won’t even know who they are. I think this will be life-changing.”

She added that persistent debt can have devastating effects on the health of those who may have fallen into debt in the first place to help preserve their health.

“One of the foremost issues that affects people’s mental health tends to be debt, as well as physical health,” she said. “I’ve experienced that myself, and really when you’re in an economic crisis it’s hard to be able to take care of anything as part of your daily life.”

And with tax season approaching, Armbrust pointed out that a donation to the NRC is a tax-deductible charitable contribution — and that the campaign could be a chance to put your tax refund to good use.

“If people can donate even a small portion of their tax refund, it really will make a difference,” she said. “A $100 donation will cancel a significant amount, about $10,000 worth of debt.”

The NRC is raising money until March 1 through their website and through text-to-donate by texting NRCFulton to 44-321. You can also mail cash donations to the NRC’s office at 1519 Williamsburg Road, Richmond 23231.