John Rusch from Applewood Heating (second from left) brought along Lennox Industries regional manager Mike Janzen of Kelowna (fourth from left) and a crew to Lumby Monday, Sept. 19, to install a new furnace at the Lumby Food Bank. Food bank volunteer Bob Wilkinson (third from left) smiles his approval. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

John Rusch from Applewood Heating (second from left) brought along Lennox Industries regional manager Mike Janzen of Kelowna (fourth from left) and a crew to Lumby Monday, Sept. 19, to install a new furnace at the Lumby Food Bank. Food bank volunteer Bob Wilkinson (third from left) smiles his approval. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Lumby Food Bank heats up with new furnace donation

Vernon’s Applewood Heating and Lennox Industries show and feel the love for food bank volunteers

Like all donations to the Lumby Food Bank, this rather large one was appreciated by staff and volunteers.

It is, however, a little hard to cut up into smaller pieces. Probably not much fun to digest, either.

The village food bank is the recipient of a new furnace, thanks to the generosity of Vernon’s Applewood Heating and of Lennox Industries, and much to the delight of volunteers Diane Borden and Bob Wilkinson, who were at the food bank Monday to greet workers ready to install the machinery.

“This, 100 per cent, is going to make a huge difference,” said Borden, who volunteers weekly for two-to-four hour shifts. “It is going to make things so much more comfortable here. I won’t have to grab the plastic cover off a food tray and use it as a fan to cool myself down.”

The food bank society office, up until Monday, Sept. 19, had an old Bryant 80 per cent efficient furnace without air conditioning in the office area. There are two reach-in coolers that, on their own, produce a lot of heat and with the hot summer weather it becomes unbearable to be in the office area on scorching days.

In the winter, with the age of the building and construction type (slab on grade), and even with the reach-in coolers going, it’s still not a comfortable place to work for the volunteers.

“I have gone to the food bank and repaired their furnace on a few occasions without charge to them to get them through the winter,” said John Rusch of Applewood Heating, who spearheaded the new food bank furnace. His fear was that the furnace would stop working altogether.

Through his late sister-in-law Irene, and after moving to the North Okanagan from the Fraser Valley with his wife, Flori (Irene’s sister), Rusch started to get to know people in the community and at Lennox Industries.

Irene, who died in 2015, got involved with the Lumby Old Age Pensioners Hall and, following her death, Flori started helping out. She met some people and began volunteering for the Lumby Food Bank.

The story diverts here to Lennox Industries and a program of theirs in the U.S. called Heat Up, where people that give time and energy in their community towards fellow citizens, the underprivileged and those down on their luck, were included. The community put forward names of people that they thought would be deserving of a new furnace system (the program later became known as Feel The Love).

Word of the program reached Applewood Heating which was basically doing the same thing in the North Okanagan.

“Sometimes it wasn’t always a replacement, it might be just some gratuitous service or repair of their system to help them out,” said Rusch, a 30-plus year gas fitter. “When news of the Lennox program was heard of around the office we wanted to be involved with such a great program that we said ‘yes were in.’”

Among the names put forward for a new personal heating upgrade was that of Lumby Food Bank volunteer Melody Sanders Bosk. Her furnace was in need of replacement and not expected to last much longer. Rusch nominated her for a replacement furnace through the Feel The Love program but because of some limitations at that time Bosk did not qualify.

Word spread of this fact and soon reached Lennox territory manager Mike Janzen of Kelowna, who graciously brought the word forward to his bosses and through negotiations was able to have Bosk’s case reviewed. Eventually, she was granted a replacement at no charge to her. Wilkinson, who owns the food bank property on Shuswap Avenue, helped with donated funds.

He, Rusch and Applewood Heating volunteered the labour and materials to do the replacement along with paying the difference to upgrade the type of furnace to the next level for even more comfort.

And that brings us back to Monday. It is that time of year again where Rusch looks around and wants to help out people in need in his community. And that’s how the Lumby Food Bank ended up with a new furnace.

“Through donations and careful planning of resources they help the people of Lumby and surrounding area to get through this time of unknown circumstances with food hampers and other daily needs,” said Rusch.

“They proudly give to the community and people without question, and support the needy people that arrive at their door with what little they have to give. With the declining amount of donations and the food recovery donations received from retail stores, the food bank is struggling to feed people. The food bank has needed to purchase foodstuff for the food hampers therefore they don’t have the funds to replace aging equipment.”

Rusch and Janzen decided to Feel The Love for the village food bank. Rusch sent an email to Janzen and, after a few days, got word that Lennox was donating the equipment. Applewood Heating donated the labour and resources to make the installment. Janzen was also in Lumby to lend a hand Monday.

“We really wanted to do this, a way of giving back to the community,” said Janzen.

The Lumby Food Bank is open from 12 to 2 p.m. every Tuesday, and the second Tuesday of every month is Hamper Day.

Rusch thanked Applewood Heating, Janzen, Lennox Industries, along with Laing Roofing and Travis Pavle for their help with the project.

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Charity and DonationsFood BankNorth Okanagan Regional DistrictVernon