Margretha Pinkney is on a mission to make sure we all have proper smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms in our homes. It’s a mission motivated by tragedy: Last October, she lost her 9-year-old son Nikko’Las in a fire at their Huntersville home.
The old house on Holbrooks Road wasn’t properly protected: It lacked a carbon monoxide alarm, she said, and “if it had a smoke alarm, it was so badly damaged by the fire they couldn’t identify it.”
This week (May 14-18), volunteers working with her “Nikko’s Smiling Heart” campaign are at the Ada Jenkins Center signing up Cornelius families for free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Cornelius firefighters will help install the alarms in homes that need them.
Ms. Pinkney, who now lives in Belmont, has already signed up more than 100 residents from Charlotte to Davidson to receive alarms, working with local fire departments. The campaign has become a crusade.
“My desire is that another mother not feel my pain,” she said Tuesday. “Hear my story, don’t live my story, that’s the campaign.”
She’s targeting areas in Charlotte and area towns with older homes, where alarms may be old or nonexistent and where people may not understand the threat. And it’s not just fire that can be a concern: Many older homes are “leaky,” she said, and carbon monoxide could enter from furnaces, automobiles or other sources.
Ms. Pinkney was told she’d never have a child, then had Nikko when she was in her late 30s. He was an honor student at Charlotte’s Waddell Language Academy and spoke five languages, including Chinese, she said. He is her motivation now.
“I don’t want another mother to stand in my shoes. He was my only child, I had him late in life. He was my gift from God,” she said.
GET A FREE ALARM
Charlotte and Huntersville firefighters have donated dozens of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to Ms. Pinkney’s cause. Now she’s working to find families that need them.
SIGN UP AT ADA JENKINS CENTER
Now through Thursday, May 17, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can visit the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson to sign up. The Ada Jenkins Center is at 212 Gamble St., on Davidson’s West Side.
“I’m gonna push this campaign until we get as many people as we can served,” said volunteer the Rev. Etheleen Jetton said.
Ms. Pinkney says she’ll sign up anyone from area towns who needs an alarm. And she urges people to check theirs. She said even if you’ve got an alarm, you should check its age and make sure it has a battery and is working properly.
If you need an alarm or you’d like to donate alarms, you can contact her at email@example.com, with the subject line: “smoke alarm carbon monoxide project.”
Nikko’s Smiling Heart Foundation on Facebook
Oct. 10, 2011, CorneliusNews.net, “9-year-old dies in Huntersville fire”