Did you know, ever since 1993, a group of chimney sweeps have volunteered their services to the American taxpayers? They do this by cleaning the White House’s 35 chimneys for free. It all started when Wisconsin based chimney sweep Jeff Schmittinger volunteered his services to then-President Bill Clinton. After a year and a half of security checks, the Secrete Service gave it’s approval, and Schmittinger’s company got the job.

He uses a team of 8 sweeps, including his wife, to clean each chimney. The cleaning occur every 2 years, and he replaces half the crew before each trip in order to give other sweeps around the country a chance to participate. Those sweeps are nominated by the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). They are nominated not just based on their sweeping skills, but also the contributions they make to their individual communities. Schmittinger says, “We look for people who have made contributions, not just to chimney sweeping but also to their communities. We know if we do this right it will continue, and I want to see this last for 100 years.”

Before each visit, he gives a pep talk to the rookies. He doesn’t want them to be too nervous. Since they do this during the August recess, he does not see many lawmakers in person. One such meeting does stand out, though. In 2006, President Bush dropped by to speak to them, and one member of his crew was a Vietnam Vet, and had lost a son to a roadside bomb. The President took the time to speak to him, and his wife said it was very healing for him.

Needless to say, this is one of those great American stories that you may not hear much about, but I wanted to share it. For all of the complaints about government spending, there is one service that doesn’t cost the taxpayer a nickel. You can thank a chimney sweep for that!