Family Focus: Woman helped by United Way takes part in fundraising campaign

by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte woman who lost her child and her home in a devastating fire almost one year ago is now the new face of the local United Way campaign.

“This kid was -- he was a gift. Oh my God, he was such a gift,” Margretha Pinkney said.

Pinkney said not a day goes by when she doesn't think about her son, Nikko.

“He had a love, an unbelievable love for people,” she said. “It didn't matter who you were, you were going to get love from him.”

Next week marks one year since her home went up in flames. The fire took 9-year-old Nikko's life.

In shock and homeless, Pinkney found comfort in the Red Cross.

“When I came out of the hospital, they had already started to prepare for me to find housing, to get housing,” she said. “They had prepared for me to get food (and) clothing, because I lost everything.”

Then, Kindermourn stepped in. It's a support group for parents who have lost children.

“Just to know that I was not alone, that someone else had stood in my shoes,” Pinkney said.

Both Red Cross and Kindermourn are United Way agencies. The group has now asked Pinkney to be a part of its local fundraising campaign.

A video will be sent to potential donors. United Way Director Jane Mcyntire said donations go to 87 local agencies in five counties.

And as in Pinkney’s case, multiple agencies often work together.

“It takes this collaborative effort to get people to move forward, to make changes in their lives. It's never, ever rarely one agency,” Mcyntire said.

 Today, Pinkney is also a United Way volunteer. She said that's exactly how Nikko would have wanted it.

“In his name and in his honor, I do for other people, because he wouldn't have had it any other way,” she said.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the United Way, click here.