Free furnace program helps Callaway county residents

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FULTON - For Charles Vaughn, getting a free furnace last year was a blessing.

Vaughn's furnace began emitting carbon monoxide shortly before a free-furnace program called "Heat Up Missouri" came to his home. He used four electric heaters to heat his home after his furnace stopped working altogether.

"I just couldn't afford a new one," Vaughn said. "I needed one bad, mine was worn out and it was in pretty bad shape."

Vaughn learned about Heat Up Missouri while reading the newspaper and decided to sign himself up. Shortly after, a crew from Fulton-based Garrett & Campbell came to install a new furnace.

"I just couldn't believe it," Vaughn said. "It was surprising to me because I didn't think I would be picked. I just got lucky that they picked my name."

This year, Heat Up Missouri is now called Feel the Love. The program started in Wisconsin in 2010 and has grown to 164 Lennox HVAC dealers across eight states.

Garrett & Campbell is one of the Lennox dealers involved with Feel the Love. Lennox reached out to them in 2016 to join, and both owners said they couldn't turn it down.

"You have someone in need, and we come out with a new furnace for them," co-owner Bud Campbell said. "It's a great way for us to help out in the community."

Once a dealer decides to get involved, it asks employees to volunteer. Lennox provides the furnace, and the dealer provides the labor. This year, all of Garrett & Campbell's employees decided to volunteer. 

Last year, Garrett & Campbell installed two furnaces: one in Fulton and one in Holts Summit. Loeffler said she hopes the program can continue to do more each year.

“I hope it gets to the point where anyone who needs a furnace can get a furnace," co-owner Brenda Loeffler said. "We can’t personally throw a furnace out there at everybody, but it’s great that they have a program for people like this.”

The deadline to apply is September 5. Community members can nominate those in need of a furnace on Feel the Love's website. The number of finalists chosen can vary by location, the nominee's community impact and the number of nominations received.