ACCA chapters help low-income and elderly homeowners stay warm this winter.

ARLINGTON, Va. - Several chapters of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America were scheduled to help with the second annual "Heat the Country" effort in October.

During the month, state and local chapters fan out to help elderly, disabled and low-income neighbors by checking and servicing their heating systems.

During Heat the Country, contractors donate time and materials to repair or replace heating systems in their communities. The chapters work with public and private social service organizations to identify families who need help.

Last year, 631 volunteers from 12 chapters worked on 788 homes, which included replacing 44 HVAC units. In its first year, the project won the American Society of Association Executives' Associations Advance America Award of Excellence.

"It is a sad fact that some people can't afford necessary heating system maintenance during the winter and sometimes turn to dangerous and life-threatening ways to keep their homes warm," said Greg Leisgang, ACCA chairman. "We're very proud of our members for their participation in this worthwhile endeavor. Most of our members are locally owned and community-based businesses. They are taking care of their neighbors."

The ACCA chapters that participated this year were: Akron Canton, Central Indiana, Central Ohio, Coastal Bend, Delaware Valley, Florida, Greater Cincinnati, Greater Cleveland, Greater Louisville, Greater Dayton, Greater Houston, Green Country, Kansas City, Mobile, National Capital, North Texas, Northeast Ohio, Oregon, San Antonio and Southeast Michigan.