Student Volunteers Provide Literally Heartwarming Holiday Help
Demonstrating that Thanksgiving is more than a word, two students in Pennsylvania College of Technology's Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning majors recently volunteered their time, tools and skills to help warm a Lycoming County octogenarian's home.
According to Richard C. Taylor, associate professor of plumbing and heating in Penn College's School of Construction and Design Technologies, the woman (a Muncy resident who asked that her name not be used) daily trudged down the basement steps to refill her steam boiler.
"Hidden leaks in dusty pipes silently stole the lifeblood of her heating system," he explained. "Adding water revived the appliance, but also contributed to growing rust and corrosion on the boiler and pipes."
The local chapter of the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers decided to do something about it.
As part of the national Oil Heat Cares Program, boiler manufacturers contribute equipment to needy situations to be installed by volunteer contractor labor. In this case, Taylor said, Burnham Corp. donated a shiny, new oil-fired steam boiler straight from its plant in Lancaster. And, with boiler in hand, Robert W. Dittmar, a Muncy plumbing/heating contractor and NAOHSM chapter president, sent out a call for help.
The instructor said he passed along the call to his hydronic heating class, and second-year students Chad E. Hoffer of Annville and Bruce R. Tami of Clearfield stepped up as volunteers.
After class on Nov. 24, having just completed installations of similar boilers in their HVAC lab, the two drove to Muncy to bolster the crew.
"Finding the job under way, they threw their minds and hands into the work" of installing new boiler, water and vent piping, Taylor said. By 6 p.m., he added, "(the woman) had heat and excellent heat, at that, with no water leaks and no more wasteful, inefficient combustion."
Tami said he was glad for the opportunity, which combined a practical application of his education with a worthwhile community project.
"It was a learning experience to work with veteran HVAC technicians doing exactly what we are being taught in class," he said. "It also gave me a good feeling to be helping a deserving elderly person so she will be warm this winter."