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Parents continue giving to Christmas Happiness 19 years after son’s death

SALISBURY — Since his 32nd birthday, Tommy and Carlene Kimball have given to the Christmas Happiness Fund in their son Todd’s name. It’s what Todd had always done before his death in 1998.

Todd was diagnosed at age 29 with a rare form of cancer for which no cure had been discovered. In fact, he was a part of a number of experimental treatments and studies that have since yielded progress.

“He always contributed every year to St. Jude’s Hospital, and he made a donation to Christmas Happiness. He always thought he was doing something to help a young child. Those two great programs we still try to support,” Tommy Kimball said.

Todd was born on Dec. 8, so the Kimballs give on his birthday each year. This year, Todd would have been 50, so the couple donated $50.

The Salisbury Post collects donations that are turned over to the Salvation Army. The organization distributes vouchers that are used at a local business where parents are able to buy gifts for their children.

Tommy Kimball recalled a time when his son was in the seventh grade and wanted a sled from Bernhardt Hardware. Tommy refused to buy one. Todd told his dad that he’d walk home and set off.

“I knew I’d pick him up,” Tommy said.

His son didn’t get far. When Tommy caught up with him, the middle schooler was helping a woman shovel snow from around her mailbox.

“He was that type of child, and as an adult, very caring,” Tommy said.

Todd began a small business, Kimball Screen Printing, in his parents’ basement in 1986 that was eventually run by his parents and later taken over by some high school friends.

Todd was involved in a car wreck in 1990 that left him severely disabled, but he still loved life.

Before he passed away, Todd and his father had a conversation about whether the elder Kimball was afraid of his son dying.

“I said, ‘No, I’m just going to miss you,'” Tommy said.

He said he knows his son is in heaven.

“There’s a lot of parents who don’t know where their loved ones are,” he said.

Among other contributions, the Rowan County Senior Democrats gave $100 in honor of Alice Mitchell, who is the organization’s president.

Former President Geoffrey Hoy called Mitchell “marvelous” and energetic” and said she does a lot in the community and with her church, Fairview Heights Baptist.

Mitchell, who was raised in eastern North Carolina and Philadelphia, moved to Rowan County about four years ago. Before that, she was an engineer with IBM. Mitchell also has an advanced degree in religious education.

She’s the treasurer for the 13th Congressional District of Democrats and is on the North Carolina Senior Democrats Executive Committee. Mitchell is a Neighborhood Watch coordinator for the Chestnut Hills neighborhood.

“She is highly energetic. She also runs the vacation Bible school for Fairview Heights. She also teaches Sunday school,” Hoy said.

“We always give to the Christmas fund. It’s a tradition of the senior Democrats,” Hoy said of the contribution.

Contributions to Christmas Happiness may be delivered to the Salisbury Post, 131 W. Innes St., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or mailed to Salisbury Post Christmas Happiness Fund, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, NC 28145-4639. Make checks payable to Christmas Happiness Fund and indicate how you want your donation listed.

Today’s contributions are:

In memory of Walt Sisk, a longtime Norfolk Southern train engineer, by Dottie Rebhan, $25
In memory of Todd Kimball on his 50th birthday by Mom and Dad, $50
In honor of Alice Mitchell for all her hard work by Rowan County Senior Democrats, $100
The Page Girls Book Club, $100
In honor of our grandchildren by George and Rita Ennis, $100
In loving memory of parents, beloved “Spuds,” and other family and friends we love and miss so much by Karen and James Wilkerson, $25
In honor of Bill Shives’ Christmas Eve birthday, Love Becky, $50
In memory of our parents, Lillian Shoaf, Mary and George Blankenship,by Bill and Becky Shives, $50
In memory of Jeff Shives, Love Dad and Becky, $50
In memory of Ida Mae and Whitney Kluttz by Norman and Sarah Holshouser, $100
In memory of our parents, $50
Senior Adult Class of Landmark Church,$100
In honor of Sunday school teachers Janet, Betty and Gloria by Doyt Watson Sunday School Class of Salem Lutheran Church, $50
In memory of Wiley G. Morgan by Elizabeth Morgan, $100
In memory of John Sigmon by Faith Soda Shop Breakfast Club, $100
Merry Christmas from Wink’s Breakfast Group, $100
Today’s total: $1,150
Running total: $13,733
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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