ARLINGTON, Va. - October is national "Heat the Country" month as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and many of the organization's state and local chapters fan out to help elderly, disabled, and low-income neighbors by checking and servicing their heating systems.

Contractors donate time and materials to repair or replace heating systems in their local communities. The chapters work with public and private social service organizations to identify families who need help.

Last year, 631 volunteers from 12 chapters worked on 788 homes, which included replacing 44 units. In its first year, the project won the American Society of Association Executives "Associations Advance America" Award of Excellence. The award recognizes associations with innovative projects in education, skills training, standards setting, business and social innovation, knowledge creation, citizenship, and community service.

"It is a sad fact that some people can't afford necessary heating system maintenance during the winter and sometimes turn to dangerous and life-threatening ways to keep their homes warm," said Greg Leisgang, 2005-06 ACCA chairman. "We're very proud of our members for their participation in this worthwhile endeavor. Most of our members are locally owned and community-based businesses. They are taking care of their neighbors."

Among the ACCA chapters participating are Akron Canton (Ohio), Austin (Texas), Central Indiana, Central Maryland, Central Ohio, Coastal Bend, Delaware Valley, Florida, Greater Cincinnati, Greater Cleveland, Greater Louisville (Ky.), Greater Dayton (Ohio), Greater Houston, Green Country, Kansas City (Mo.), Mobile, National Capital (D.C.), North Texas, Northeast Ohio, Oregon, San Antonio (Texas), and Southeast Michigan.

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Publication date: 09/12/2005