Man supported charity with money ... and bikes

FAYETTEVILLE — When Kenneth Combs of Jonesboro began supporting Save R Kids, a Fayetteville charity that cares for South American orphans, founder Patricia Jackson said she knew he was special.

The year was 1995, and Jackson had met him at a fund-raising party at a friend’s house.

“Back then, I just went to people’s houses and told them about the children in Guyana,” Jackson said. “Mr. Combs was at one of the meetings with his wife Virginia. I was looking around the room during my presentation talking to everyone, but for some reason I just kept coming back to him.”

Combs, who passed away last month, contacted Jackson soon thereafter and began a 12-year relationship with the Fayetteville charity. He made regular donations, and one year even sent 35 brand new bikes to the orphans.

“If you think one child gets excited to wake up on Christmas morning and see a brand new bike, just imagine the excitement of 35 kids,” Jackson said. “We all still smile thinking about the joy he brought to the kids that year.”

Katie New, who’s worked with Save R Kids for three years, said she’s seen first-hand how hard non-profits have it. That made Combs’ support all the more important.

“With our economy, it’s hard for people to take care of their own families, let along orphans in another country,” New said. “But I know this, in good times and bad, Mr. Combs was always there. His envelopes always came in.”

Jackson said she first learned of Combs’ illness in April. During their last visit in hospice, Jackson said that he was “so encouraging” to her.

“He was so happy to hear that the children he had been helping take care of all these years were doing well and that they were learing about the Lord and learing to tell others about Him,” she said.

Kenneth Combs, 77, passed away June 2. He was a longtime active member of Jonesboro First Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday school and participated in mission trips. He also served on a citizen’s review panel for Clayton County Juvenile Court. He worked for Delta Air Lines, where he retired in 2001.

Combs’ last request was that donations in his memory be sent to Save R Kids, the charity he supported. For information on Save R Kids, visit www.saverkidsinternational.org.