As one gets older, one realizes it's better to give than to receive. Can't say that was the case when I was younger.

Then again, life seemed simpler at that point in time, too. You know, when you could actually run a mile or bicycle for an entire afternoon without needing the services of a tank of oxygen, seven energy bars, and/or eight gallons of Gatorade to survive the task.

OK, it's not fun growing old. There. I said it. One just has to remain young at heart, right?

Still, being in this HACIA (translation: Half-A-Century-In-Age) Club, one hopefully begins seeing more of the good in life. As one grows older, one realizes that life is, indeed, precious.

People who come to this realization often get this urge to give something back to society. They volunteer at a local Ronald McDonald House, become a Big Brother, or coach a grandson's summer T-ball games.

Sanyo North America Group has partnered with the Believe In Tomorrow National Children’s Foundation to provide critically ill children and their families with rides in the Sanyo Blimp.

Plenty Of Examples

Just look around this industry. There are plenty of fine examples of manufacturers, contractors, and wholesalers giving something back to their communities.

For instance, Sanyo North America Group, the parent organization of Sanyo HVAC, has partnered with the Believe In Tomorrow National Children's Foundation to provide Hands Onâ„¢ Flying to critically ill children and their families across the United States. Children fighting life-threatening illnesses board the Sanyo Blimp for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, soaring high above their home cities.

According to Brian Morrison, the founder of Believe in Tomorrow, "Sanyo has helped Believe in Tomorrow bring smiles to the faces of some very special young children and teens and given them the opportunity to share their experiences with others."

Meanwhile, Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems partnered with Little League Baseball as a national sponsor. In addition to sponsoring the largest youth sports organization in the world, independent Bryant dealers have the opportunity to reach out and sponsor teams in their communities.

"We really wanted to extend Bryant's ‘Whatever It Takes' spirit into the communities we serve," explained Debbie Castro, marketing manager at Bryant.

And, it's nice to note that three years after Luxaire Heating and Air Conditioning entered into the first of two three-year contracts with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the company has raised more than $1 million for the world's oldest and largest wish-granting organization.

The company donates a portion of every sale of a Luxaire product toward the company's minimum annual contribution of $250,000 to Make-A-Wish. In addition, dollars raised by the company's combined sales efforts support local Make-A-Wish chapters located in dealer markets.

Reaching Out To Help

Luxaire went one step further. Its distributors and dealers are participating in a series of company-sponsored Make-A-Wish nights at minor league ballparks. These special game sponsorships provide dealers with the opportunity for on-field fundraising and pregame ceremonies recognizing the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

In addition, many of the participating minor league baseball clubs organize fundraising activities of their own to supplement proceeds.

"The association with Minor League Baseball complements our partnership with Make-A-Wish," commented Tim Lashar, Luxaire brand marketing manager. "Distributors and dealers alike are finding creative ways to raise money for children in their communities."

Last month, Solar Supply of Lake Charles, La., held such a fundraiser with the New Orleans Zephyrs, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. On Aug. 13, ABCO Refrigeration Supply Corp. of Long Island City, N.Y., will get together with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, an A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Later that same month, Pipeline Supply Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., plans an outing with the St. Paul Saints. Meanwhile, Thomas Somerville Co. of Upper Marlboro, Md., has an August date with the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

And what can you say about a contractor who is willing to perform jobs for free for low-income families? Russ Donnici, president of Mechanical Air Services, San Jose, Calif., is such a giver.

In 1995, Donnici took caring to the next level by starting Outreach Heating and Cooling Inc., a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides free and reduced-cost heating-cooling services to low-income families, individuals, and nonprofit organizations.

He and his wife, Debi, have funded this effort themselves; their firm provides free office space, clerical support, insurance, dispatching, and bookkeeping services. Outreach has benefited thousands of needy individuals since its inception.

"We are in a very affluent area, but not everyone is making money," said Donnici. "A lot of seniors and fixed-income people own homes but don't have a cash flow. We have run into many cases where people had to choose between heating their home or eating a meal. This is just a way to help out."

In fact, Donnici said he is "currently transitioning into semi-retirement," which will then give him more volunteer time for his nonprofit cause.

Bottom line: There just isn't enough space here to point out all the giving that is taking place in this industry. I'm just happy to hear about these charitable efforts.

And, if you are not giving back, now is the time to do so. You don't have to wait until you are a part of the HACIA Club. Honest.

Mark Skaer is senior editor. He can be reached at 618-239-0288 or

Publication date: 05/30/2005