A mother is continuing the legacy of her son by reaching out to those in need across the country.
It's been just over two years since 20-year-old Nick Bell passed away from cancer. He was born and raised in Bessemer and went on to play football at Mississippi State. He was still in school there when he died.
But his mother, Linda Bell, refused to let his dreams of caring for others die too. She's now doing something special in his honor for the holiday season.
Linda says kindness, giving, and encouragement completes the picture of her son, whom most people knew as #36, a defensive end for Mississippi State.
She remembers seeing that encouragement during one football game he played in fifth grade.
"He's out in the middle of the field going like this, trying to get the parents involved, cheering them on. And I was like, look at this boy. Look at this boy," she said.
In November 2010, Nick died of a rare form of cancer at the young age of 20. Shortly after his death, his mother Linda established a foundation in his honor to celebrate his special gifts.
"Being a parent, I understand the earliest you can get to a child and encourage him, the better chance he'll have to develop those positive skills to develop them in his heart and mind and do well," Linda said.
This holiday season, she's reaching out to young people by donating to children and teens in the New Jersey area affected by Hurricane Sandy.
"We want to care for them in such a way that they can have something in their hands right now to hold onto," she said.
Having gone through difficult times, Linda Bell knows the importance of reaching out to those in need.
Sgt. Chris Anderson with the Birmingham Police Department Anderson says as a police officer he often sees the negative side of humanity, but this gives him hope.
"You have that small percentage of people that are bad. But then you find a person like Ms. Bell who's carrying on her son's name and is willing to partner with the police department to help someone, and it renews my sense of thinking the greater good of people," Anderson said.
The four Birmingham Police Department precincts are serving as drop-off points for the foundation's efforts. Other drop off locations include WATV radio station in Ensley and the Regions Bank on Arrington Blvd. They will be collecting items until Dec. 15.
Linda bell says they already have a contact person in New Jersey and plan to drive up to drop off the gifts in time for Christmas.
For more information, go to Nickbellfoundation.org.
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