A Texas-based heating and cooling manufacturer has been procuring, designating and installing donated HVAC equipment to nominated individuals and families in need of it, including those who reside in states outside of its own, for over a decade.
Lennox Industries implemented its Feel The Love program, which was formerly known as Heat U.P., in 2009. According to the company, Lennox and its dealers have completed more than 1,500 free HVAC installations since the program launched; 210 of those installations occurred in 2020 alone.
During the past year, Lennox Industries has been focusing more on contributing resources to first responders, medical professionals and frontline workers who have worked to keep their communities safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
That effort has extended into this year’s Feel The Love program, as Lennox Industries encourages community members to nominate their local heroes to receive heating or cooling equipment and installations at no cost.
Lennox Industries District Manager for Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas Dave Chatmon said that the conception of the Feel The Love program occurred during a December 2008 discussion among dealers in Milwaukee, Wis. It began as an idea as to how the company could give back to local communities that the company’s contractors sell to.
The program unofficially kicked off in early 2009, when the first piece of equipment was installed for a United States military member. Everything involved in the process was donated — the furnace, the labor, the vehicles and even the tools required to complete the installation.
“That was the whole agreement, that it had to be 100% giveback from everyone as a partnership to the community,” Chatmon said.
Chatmon said that the employees and community members directly or indirectly involved in the first installation loved the concept of the program. In October 2010, the Feel The Love program made its official debut.
The program has undergone a few changes since its debut 12 years ago. The name was changed to reflect the addition of equipment aside from that which facilitates heating to the program; more dealers have gotten involved. And the program has expanded to allow eligibility for anyone living in the United States as well as in Canada.
Chatmon indicated that the expansion started as a state-by-state one. After Lennox Wisconsin’s initial launch, Minnesota’s district manager joined. Then Kansas reached out to ask for help in implementing the program in the state.
Lennox’s Wisconsin branch taught other interested heating contractors how to bring the program to their customers and promote the total giveback. Lennox would donate the equipment, the dealer would donate materials and employees would donate labor to completely give back the community they served, Chatmon said. “That really took off.”
When asked about the importance of a program such as Feel The Love in states like West Virginia, which has faced a notable struggle with poverty – its most recent rate being 16%, rendering it the 6th poorest state in American behind Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Kentucky and Arkansas, according to data released in 2020 – Chatmon drew from the name of the program to respond.
“I really feel that the main key to this, the most important piece of the whole thing, is the employees of the companies. Because they’re giving their expertise, their skill, they’re giving that to the homeowners because they care. Because of the love,” he said.
Chatmon said that his hometown, too, is impoverished, and that in his experience people who are facing poverty tend to feel more open to the idea of receiving help when they understand that everyone is giving.
As a result, Chatmon said that Lennox tries to make sure that heating contractors are asking homeowners if they are okay with accepting help rather than forcing it upon them despite their nomination.
“There’s a reason why they’re being nominated, and you need to make them feel worthy and incredible because they’re getting this nomination. Somebody loves them enough to nominate them. There’s a reason for that, and you want people to understand that it’s because people care,” he said.
You can nominate community members that you believe are deserving or in need to receive equipment from the Feel The Love program by navigating to feelthelove.com.
Acceptance of nominations are based on a range of criteria, including but not limited to involvement in their community, military service or financial hardship.
The deadline for nominations is Aug. 31. Installations will take place Oct. 9-16.