I have to take time out to congratulate HVAC instructor Robert Stringham and some of his thoughtful students at Edison Academy in Alexandria, Va.

Stringham, students, and some staff members were scheduled to put on their third (and final) carbon monoxide awareness workshop Saturday (Oct. 27) at the Lowe’s store in nearby Woodbridge, Va. It’s the finale for, what they dubbed, “The CO Project” - a project that began in June and touched many lives along the way.

It is the kids’ hope that they have also saved more than a few lives along the way.

In a nutshell, the ever-alert Stringham pushed for and was awarded a $10,000 grant for Edison Academy from SkillsUSA. Stringham sold officials on the neat little project, which was designed to raise CO awareness and offer a service to the community. (To be precise, Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation contributed $500,000 to the SkillsUSA programs. Lowe’s, in turn, then offered $10,000 grants to SkillsUSA chapters “for innovative community service projects and dynamic instructional program enhancements.”)

With grant money in hand, Stringham first attended a train-the-trainer course in carbon monoxide and combustion analysis. When the 2007-08 school year opened in late August, Stringham proceeded to teach a few students the CO course, so they, in turn, could be certified and able to teach the CO class to other students.

The CO Project officially kicked off in September. After the students were selected, the group organized the workshops and prepared materials accordingly.

During the first week of October, the group had a workshop for the media at Edison Academy, plus the school set up a display at the state SkillsUSA HVAC competition. Literature was also passed out to attendees and other Virginia HVAC programs. On the second week of October, another workshop was held at the Lowe’s stores in Richmond, Va.

According to Stringham, at least 300 CO detectors were handed out to each workshop participant. In my estimation, this is all good news, especially since there are approximately 500 deaths in the United States each year due to CO poisoning. The lasting impact is that people who received the CO detectors should be safer in their homes. They will possess (hopefully) the knowledge of how to install and test a CO detector, and how to react if the detector signals an alarm.

All I can say is “Nice job, kids!” Don’t you think so, too?

(By the way, if you know of other HVACR schools and students doing commendable community work, post the information here. It’s really OK to boast and show your pride. Honest.)