Helping the families of our active duty troops, whether deployed or at home, stay warm this winter, free of charge: that’s the purpose of “Heat for Heroes,” a program developed by the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago and Pipefitters Local Union (LU) 597.

Working through Operation Homefront of Illinois, the service contractors who belong to MCA, and the HVAC service technicians from LU 597 who they employ, are providing free repair of home heating systems for Chicago-area military families in need. More than 375,000 military personnel deployed worldwide.

More than 15,000 active duty troops hail from the Chicago area.

“There’s usually one parent left at home with one, if not several children. When the furnace doesn’t work, this parent doesn’t have the time, money or other resources to fix it. All they know is their children are cold and their furnace doesn’t work,” says Glenda Cain, Family Assistance Manager of Operation Homefront of Illinois.

Cain knows the majority of these families live paycheck-to-paycheck, and are sometimes too proud to ask for a hand-out, nor should they have to. This is where Heat for Heroes comes in. Cain says these families will be “eternally grateful.”

Stephen Lamb, Executive Vice President of the MCA of Chicago, said he speaks for the association’s contractors and the members of LU 597 when he states, “All Americans have a responsibility to give back to the military families who sacrifice so much while their loved ones are protecting our country.”

Chicago-area families of active duty military, whether deployed or at home, are encouraged to complete the application online from Operation Homefront through their website.

Visit www.mca.org and click on the “Heat for Heroes” banner to be taken directly to the Operation Homefront home page.

Cain said, “This is something the families can do privately, without everyone knowing they need help.” Friends of military families are also asked to support this program by sharing this information with those they may know who are in need. Once applications are received, they are immediately reviewed. Operation Homefront determines need and arranges for the services requested. When approved, participating MCA of Chicago contractors are contacted, and will work with LU 597 volunteers to make ensure that repairs are made quickly.

MCA and LU 597 are donating time and materials to keep the families of our soldiers warm while their loved ones are away. Read more about Heat for Heroes and MCA of Chicago at www.mca.org.