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DavidsonNews.net: After Tragedy, Mom Crusades To Get Smoke Alarms For All

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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. Nikko'Las Pinkney The old house on Holbrooks Road wasn't properly protected: It lacked a CO2 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, volunteers working with her "Nikko's Smiling Heart" campaign are at the Ada Jenkins Center signing up families for free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Davidson Fire Department is helping out, and volunteer firefighters will 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. Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers, including the Rev. Etheleen Jetton, will be at Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson signing up families. 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," the Rev. 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 mysonnikko1@yahoo.com, with the subject line: "smoke alarm carbon monoxide project." RELATED LINKS Nikko's Smiling Heart Foundation on Facebook Oct. 10, 2011, CorneliusNews.net, "9-year-old dies in Huntersville fire"