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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —  A company in Indianapolis is giving $100,000 to people, businesses and organizations in need.

News 8 first reported on Royal United Mortgage last week as they gave away half of the money. Employees got to hand out $100 to someone in the community. This week, another $50,000 is being donated, with a different focus. Employees at the company nominated a group or business they thought could use some help this year.

“Royal United was very kind enough to present us with this opportunity of, for the girls at our school here,” said Jacqueline Landuyt as she handed off a check for $3,500 to the Shortridge High School athletic director. The money is going to the girls basketball team.

Shortridge High School receives check

“That should be more than enough to cover the shoes, the warmups, as well as bags and everything else that the girls need,” said Landuyt.

Landuyt is the junior varsity girls basketball coach at Shortridge High School and is a loan advisor with Royal United Mortgage. 

“I feel like anything to give them that boost of confidence,” said Landuyt.

“3,500 dollars,” said Athletic Director Craig Huljack. “Largest donation under my watch. This is way more money than I was expecting. Something like this will just lift their spirits so much.”

Due to COVID-19, the team couldn’t raise money with car washes or bake sales. Most of the kids are stuck at home caring for younger siblings, doing virtual learning and helping their families make ends meet.

“See girls come into practice with regular tennis shoes and practice and then leave in those because maybe that is their only pair of tennis shoes,” said Landuyt. “Just it really hit home for me.”

Therefore, when the company she works for, Royal United Mortgage, announced there wouldn’t be a holiday party due to the pandemic and instead there would be a “pay it forward” campaign, she took a chance and nominated the team.

Royal United Mortgage CEO Michael Keleher said the goal is simple.

“Why not take that money and push it out into our community?” said Keleher. 

They’re donating a total of $100,000 in the cities where the company is located, during the weeks before Thanksgiving. They gave $50,000 of it to businesses and groups in need over the last few days.

“With COVID, we haven’t been able to volunteer like we are used to. So this has been a really good campaign,” said Keleher.

Another worthy recipient was a restaurant in Pendleton called Downings Old Trail Bar & Grill. The restaurant has been hit hard by not only COVID-19, but cancer, and a crash into its building.

“We want to pay it forward to you. Royal United Mortgage would like to give you guys a check for 5,000 dollars to help you get back on your feet,” said Lauren Roszell, as she handed off the check.

Douglas and Mary Downing could hardly believe what they were hearing.

Douglas and Mary Downing receive check

“I am stunned,” said Douglas. “And just really stunned. I can’t believe it. I have never had anything like this happen before.”

Their family restaurant survived the Great Depression and World War II, but the pandemic has almost put them out of business.

“This is something we weren’t ready for. We spent most of our savings just to stay open,” said Douglas.

Plus a car crashed into the building earlier this year and the restaurant caught on fire. Then in June, Mary was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

“Your story really touched me because I lost my dad to Stage 4 lung cancer not too long ago,” said Roszell.

Roszell is an employee at Royal United Mortgage and saw this “pay it forward” campaign as a way to help.

Now what started as an idea to pay it forward is paying off with hope.

“Just let them know there is hope and don’t ever give up,” said Douglas. 

These are just two examples of the many groups and businesses Royal United Mortgage helped this week.

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Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.