Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater
CLEARWATER, Florida -- Church leaders at Trinity Presbyterian say nearly $120,000 in donated funds collected for two-year-old Ireland Nugent was always safe, and always intended to go directly into a pair of trust funds set up for the family.
The checks were handed over first thing Tuesday morning after the family says they spent weeks waiting.
"They were signed and I took them over to Nicole and they are actually in the bank," said Interim Associate Pastor Kathi Trautweim. "This was the plan all along."
At issue was the time it took to get those funds deposited.
"Right now the medical bills are mounting," said Ireland's grandfather Michael Del Corpo. "They're already behind and this is continuing to add up. And now they're finding themselves putting money on credit cards and this trust fund money was set up to cover that."
Over the weekend, news spread across Facebook, sparking backlash against the church for not distributing the donated money sooner. The church took the Facebook page down and held an emergency meeting Monday, voting within seven minutes to immediately hand over the cash.
"We Presbyterians like to do everything decently and in order, which means we want to make sure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed," said Pastor Trautweim. "It just took a while because... usually in the Presbyterian Church it does."
Ireland's mother Nicole was back at work Tuesday as church pre-school director on Tuesday. Pastor Trautweim wants the Nugent family to know the church will continue to be there for Ireland and her entire family.
"What this family needs today more than money- and they certainly need money because they're going to have a lot of expenses- but what they're going to need is the loving support of their church family," said Pastor Trautweim. "The hope is to get past this so we can be just that."
Pastor Dennis Reid, who's currently on a mission trip in Guatemala emailed 10 News in defense of the church's efforts, saying, "It is so sad that their family chose to slander us and tarnish so much good work that will go to help Ireland and the Nugent family in the future."
In response to whether or not the Nugents will still be welcomed at his church, Pastor Reid said, "Absolutely! At the core of the Christian faith is reconciliation."
Beau Zimmer, 10 News