Annual furnace giveaway program run by Farmington business benefits three families

Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning has been running program since 2019

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • Two of the families being helped live in the Aztec area, while the third lives in the West Hammond district southwest of Bloomfield.
  • Approximately 80 nominations or applications for the program were received this year.
  • Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning already is planning on continuing the program next year.

FARMINGTON — A trio of San Juan County families will have the gift of a warm home this holiday season after the annual furnace giveaway program organized by a Farmington business was joined by two other firms.

Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning has been giving away and installing a Coleman furnace for a needy San Juan County family every year since 2019, according to Michelle Robbins, who owns the company with her husband. But this year, the business was able to warm up the holidays for three families when two other companies stepped in and donated furnaces, which Robbins workers will install.

“It was awesome,” Robbins said. “Actually, after we did the site visits (which are used by Robbins personnel to pick which family would receive the prize), we couldn’t really decide among the three finalists. And it was about that time that we got a call from the New Mexico Gas Company.”

Robbins said she had already been contacted by Brian Griego of Sigler Wholesale Distributors, an Albuquerque HVAC company, offering to donate a Bryant furnace for the program. When New Mexico Gas Company officials offered to donate a third furnace, Robbins agreed to have her workers install them, meaning all three families that had been chosen as finalists would not have to suffer through a cold winter this year.

Robbins said two of the families live in the Aztec area, while the third lives in the West Hammond district southwest of Bloomfield. The first winner is a recent widow who was using a wooden skewer to light her malfunctioning pilot light, which was going out several times each day, she said.

A San Juan County homeowner reacts after being told by Michelle Robbins of Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. that she and her family would receive a new furnace.

The second winner was a family that recently had moved into its first home, only to find the furnace wasn’t working, according to Robbins. An examination of the home revealed the crawl space was too small to allow for the installation of a new furnace, but Robbins said Aaron Spellbring of Spellbring Construction, a Farmington contractor, agreed to have his workers modify the space to accommodate the new equipment.

The third family had not had a working furnace for three years, Robbins said, after it and the water heater went out at the same time and the family had to choose between staying warm and having hot water because of its financial situation. The family was using a wood stove for heat, which added to the workload of the wife, the family caregiver who is taking care of her husband and mother, both of whom are disabled, Robbins said.

The second home was the coldest one, Robbins said, noting that when she and her workers visited the family, the two younger girls were huddled around a space heater trying to keep warm.

“I was just really grateful we could ease all their concerns and put a new furnace in for them,” she said.

While the third home had some heat from the wood-burning stove, Robbins said the heat did not reach the bathrooms. But that situation will be rectified with the installation of the new furnace, she said.

“Being able to have a warm bathroom is a huge blessing,” she said.

Steve and MIchelle Robbins of Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning in Farmington pose with the three heaters and carbon monoxide detectors that will be installed in the homes of San Juan County families by next week.

Robbins said her company received 80 applications or nominations for participation in the program this year, which is approximately the same number it received last year. Other firms such as M&R Plumbing and Majestic Electric also contributed to the program, while Chick-fil-A donated gift cards and M&R Restoration donated carbon monoxide detectors for all the finalists.

All three homes will have the new furnaces installed by the end of next week, she said, adding that her company already plans to continue the program next year.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 Support local journalism with a digital subscription: