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Gift of Heat and Clean Air

The team at Air Comfort Heating and Cooling poses with their trucks outside of their headquarters in Fremont. The company is hosting a "Gift of Heat" and "Gift of Clean Air" initative to provide families with heating and air systems who may otherwise not afford it.

Air Comfort Heating and Cooling is hoping to make this winter a little bit better for families in Columbus and Fremont.

The HVAC contractor will be providing the “Gift of Heat” and the “Gift of Clean Air” to families in their coverage area who may not have the necessary funds to afford a heating system or a clean air system in their homes. Air Comfort is collaborating with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and its counterpart in Fremont in order to get word of the event out to more people.

Those interested in nominating a family can fill out a form online at aircomfortne.com or click on the link on the company’s Facebook page. They can also access the form through the Columbus and Fremont chambers of commerces' email blasts. One family will be chosen for each of the two categories and it is possible for the same family to receive both.

For Air Comfort, the primary goal is to provide heat and clean air to families who may not be able to get through the winter without one. Steve Simmons, owner of Air Comfort, said that on occasion, they had been able to provide free air systems to families if one was found to have a need. But, this will be the first year that a formalized campaign will be held by the company.

“(We’ve done) nothing this big,” Simmons said. “We’ve done stuff like this before, but it’s typically been one of my technicians who comes in and says, ‘I was just at this person’s home, they’re really in a bad way. What can we do for them?’ We’ve done similar things over the last 30 years, but this year we wanted to get people to nominate because instead of leaving it up to us, the more people that know about it, the more opportunity we have to get out and help somebody.”

The initiative is also an important part of what Air Comfort General Manager Chris Landgrebe wants to accomplish in his role. He and his wife joined the company one year prior and he has made it a mission to make Air Comfort a vital part of the communities that they serve.

“We tried to make Steve (Simmons) and Bart (Bosco), the owners of the company, get more involved in the community,” Landgrebe said. “We’ve done some work for Toys For Tots, sponsored a dog at one of the local dog shelters, and we’re just trying to get as involved in the community as we can. We’ve been in the Columbus and Fremont areas for over 30 years, and the people in those communities have taken good care of us over the years and we just wanted to do what we could to give back.”

Landgrebe realized that there was plenty of need out there thanks to the flooding last March that affected people throughout Nebraska and wanted to do something that could help them return to some sense of normalcy.

“We have some people that are still in their homes that are using space heaters, which isn’t necessarily the safest or most efficient way to heat their homes,” Landgrebe said. “We worked with our equipment suppliers and said, ‘This is what we want to do. Can you guys help us out?’ We were able to get a couple of systems put together.”

The belief is that by providing select families with free-of-charge heating and air purification systems, they can provide a better life for people in the community. Landgrebe said that for families who get these systems, they will have a new lease on life.

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“There are quite a few people that we’ve done duct cleaning for and put in some ultraviolet cleaners that have COPD and other breathing problems like asthma and allergies,” Landgrebe said. “They’ve called us a month later and said that they don’t have to take their allergy medicine anymore. It’s one way that we can give back to the community and give people a better life.”

As of earlier this week, only nine nominations have been sent, and Simmons wants people to get the word out about making sure that they have plenty of deserving nominations to choose from.

“As of this morning, we have only received nine nominations,” Simmons said Tuesday. “We’re OK now. We have one family that would benefit from both, but there might be some other people out there.”

Both Simmons and Landgrebe noted that they were more than willing to see if other contractors would provide these free systems to other families in the area, in order to make this winter a better one for even more families who may not have heat or good air in their homes otherwise.

“We’re thankful that we’re in a position to be able to do this,” Simmons said. “This is not a competitive thing. We’re more than willing or happy to talk to any other contractor and supply them with some of this information if we get enough nominations. That would be the ultimate goal, to get several of these free systems out there.”

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zachary.roth@lee.net.

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