Employees of nine plumbing, heating and cooling contractors serving the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys are doing their part to help fix a nationwide program — locating missing children.

After an official unveiling at a local elementary school in mid-September, the service trucks of these nine companies started carrying the faces of missing children from across the United States. These 50 or so service vehicles, which average traveling 100 miles per day, are believed to be the only “moving billboards” for missing children on the East Coast.

Marty Donnelly, president of Donnelly’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Lansdale, PA, initiated the local effort after hearing about a similar program run by Wigginton’s Plumbing Service in Sylmar, CA. Wigginton’s story was told in the July issue of PM.

Donnelly came across the idea when he attended the Quality Service Contractors meeting in Toronto.

“I’ve always been concerned about the issue,” said Donnelly. “When I realized that we could help make a difference by getting the word out about these kids I considered it a great way of giving back to the community.”

He said he considered displaying the photographs on just his own five trucks, but thought the cause would be better served by expanding the idea.

As one of approximately 110 QSC members in the United States, Donnelly decided to help motivate other local members, as well as members of the national (PHCC-NA) and state (PAPHCC) associations of plumbing, heating and cooling contractors to join in.

“I realize there is strength in numbers,” Donnelly said. “I felt I wouldn’t have enough impact if I did it alone, and once I asked around, I found a lot of interest and concern among other QSC members, as well.”

The Pennsylvania Quality Service Contractors was among the first such groups organized in the country and remains one of the most active. The nine Pennsylvania companies participating in the program are: Guy M. Cooper Inc, Willow Grove; Donnelly’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Inc., Lansdale; Johnson Plumbing and Heating, Lansdowne; Kenney’s Plumbing and Heating, Havertown; Joseph Stong Inc., Chester; Marzulli and Son Plumbing and Heating, Philadelphia; Moyer Plumbing and Heating, Kuztown; JF Rearden Plumbing and Heating, Reading and Ray A. Shaffer Inc., Schwenksville.

To get started, the plumbers contacted the Polly Klaas Foundation in California and the Children’s Rights of PA Inc. in Allentown. Both organizations provide photographs of missing children for mass distribution, which the companies have enlarged and reproduced for their trucks. Each poster measures 20– by 24–inches and features a photograph and description of the missing children.

“We are thrilled with the plumbing contractors’ program, and would like to see more across the state follow suit,” said Phyllis Watts, administrator of Children’s Rights of PA. “This group has taken the lead in displaying these photographs on a continuing basis over a wide area, a strategy that has worked over and over.”