By Kathy Feist
Every year for Christmas, the Kansas City Police Department’s Traffic Division plays Santa to a needy family who lost a loved one in a traffic fatality. This year they chose to give presents to the family of Charlie Criniere, a Martin City School math teacher who was struck and killed while riding his bicycle near Longview Lake this past August. He left behind his wife Megan and 10 children.
On Friday, December 23rd, Sergeant Jon Rivers, with the Traffic Division, arrived at the Criniere home on Grandview Road around noon with a truckload of wrapped presents. Megan and nine of her children (one lives in Chicago) watched as an parade of colorfully wrapped gifts was carried through the front door and placed under the Christmas tree.
“Seeing Sergeant Rivers under much different circumstances is just precious,” said Megan, who sat with the youngest on her lap. “It’s very redeeming that they would even think of the kids.”
At least one child jumped up and down on the couch as the empty space under the tree filled up with presents. A group of older sisters sat on a couch near the tree smiling and sharing secrets while the brothers watched stoically from the kitchen.
“It’s hard not to be excited at this,” said Megan. “But we definitely miss him being here. Charlie was super fun, always laughing, always cracking jokes, always stirring up the kids and making motion. So it’ll be hard.”
Megan says she plans to keep the family Christmas tradition going this weekend, entertaining a full house on Christmas Eve and opening presents and watching movies in PJs on Christmas Day.
Since Charlie’s passing, the family has received support from far and wide after the story received national attention. A Go Fund Me page has raised close to $220,000 for the family, enabling Megan to continue to homeschool her children full time. She is grateful for that support as well as from the various local communities.
“Thank you to all the people I’ll never meet, a lot of whose names are anonymous,” she said. “I know I may never meet you, but if you happen to see this, thank you, just thank you for thinking of us.”
“It’s been an up and down journey for us,” says Megan. “But I think having obviously lots of kids with lots of life ahead of them makes me move, keeps me in motion. I think when we get to the other side of this, we’ll have a lot more to share. We’re not quite there yet.”