A heart and hearth warming gift

PLYMOUTH/BOURBON — Christmas is almost upon us, but now is the time to be thankful for a major unexpected gift.
No, it is not a new car or the latest Wii game. It is a brand new, completely installed, Bryant furnace. And, it is free!
We all struggle at times. Dan and Paige Berger, who live in Bourbon, had their plate full working multiple jobs and raising four children, three of whom still live in their home. She works at the American Legion hall in Bourbon, while he is employed at Precision Paint in Bremen.
This is nothing unusual, right? We all face tight conditions from time to time.
Then, in February, their furnace went out. They came home one day to a strong carbon monoxide odor. NIPSCO was called to inspect, and immediately red-tagged their furnace. Fortunately, the cold weather was coming to an end, and they also own a corn-burning stove heater. The stove, however, was not working either. For the next few weeks, they used small electric heaters and bundled up until spring. Meanwhile, they began saving for a new furnace.
“When it rains, it pours,” they say, and Paige had a motorcycle accident in May which took her off work for six weeks. The money they had saved for the furnace had to be used for household expenses.
The warmer spring and summer weather eliminated the need for a furnace, but winter was coming. This fall, they were in the process of planning how to cover windows and bundle up to get through the coming cold.
Then, something happened.
“Giving back,” is what Brian Harris calls it. Harris is responsible for sales and quotations for Peregrine Heating and Cooling in Plymouth. Owner Bob Zahm had decided that it was time to give back to the extended community which had made his business so successful over the years.
Peregrine’s “giving back” took the form of a complete new Bryant furnace installation, including the furnace itself, any parts necessary, and the installation labor. This was to be given without charge to a deserving area family.
The Bergers, while definitely in need of such a gift, did not know about the giveaway. Harris said that the idea was promoted on Facebook, on the radio, in their newsletter and in the newspaper. The target for the installation was to be September or early October, in time for the cold weather.
One of the Bergers’ neighbors saw the promotion on Facebook, and nominated them for the furnace.
Paige said, “I asked all of our friends to write letters stating why we deserved the furnace.”
Harris said that in spite of this being a new concept, Peregrine had 12 - 15 applications for the unit. In the end, the Bergers were chosen as the recipients, and the furnace was installed.
“Besides being an obvious choice over not having a furnace at all,” said Harris, “the Bergers will have additional advantages.” He explained that the new furnace is 95% energy efficient. “It will result in lower utility bills, and will do away with the safety issue of carbon monoxide,” he concluded.
“It’s been a really good experience, Paige said. “Peregrine is a kind, generous company. We are very appreciative of the opportunity to enter the contest.” Dan gave a word of thanks “for the guys installing.”
What is next for Zahm and his Peregrine Heating and Cooling employees?
“We hope to make this an annual event,” Harris said. “We are very pleased to ‘give back’ in a meaningful way.”
He even indicated that Peregrine may take the lead next year in putting together a collection of businesses to bring a meaningful Thanksgiving to area residents.
Christmas may come early for area retailers hoping to have a good ending to their yearly sales. For Dan and Paige Berger, however, Thanksgiving is the key holiday as they enter the cold season enjoying their new furnace with hearty praise for the generosity of Peregrine Heating and Cooling.