For these 15 families affected by homicides, an early Thanksgiving surprise

This Thanksgiving, a seat at Tamika Allen’s dinner table will be empty.

Her brother, John Allen, was killed in May, beaten to death near 22nd Street and Denver Avenue.

Thanksgiving would have been his 43rd birthday.

“It’s hard,” Allen said of the approaching holidays. “It’s real hard. He was my only brother.”

Allen received a phone call about a week ago, asking her to visit the Benjamin Banneker Charter School in Brookside for a surprise. It was there where she and the families of 14 other homicide victims on Saturday received a turkey and other groceries to make their Thanksgiving dinner this week.

“It’s a blessing,” Allen said.

Raeshawn Hamilton (middle), niece of Cortez Hanley, received a hug from a KC Mothers in Charge and World Changers Church of Kansas City volunteer as she and Michelle Miller (right), mother of Cortez, stood in the parking lot after being surprised with Thanksgiving baskets complete with a turkey, sides and a gift card. Fifteen families who lost loved ones in 2017 to homicide received surprise gifts on Saturday, Nov. 18. SHANE KEYSER skeyser@kcstar.com

The 15 Thanksgiving dinners were arranged by KC Mothers In Charge and World Changers Church.

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 23 this year. That date also has meaning to Rosilyn Temple, founder of KC Mothers In Charge. The date will mark six years since her son, Antonio Thompson, was murdered.

Temple understands how difficult it is for the 15 families who arrived to collect their early Thanksgiving surprise; Temple said the pain of losing a loved one hasn’t let up.

“Never,” she said. “It seems like it was yesterday.”

The murder of her son remains unsolved. She doesn’t blame the police for that; she wishes more people who have information about violent crime would come forward with what they know.

“The community has to step up,” Temple said.

So far this year, 130 people have been murdered in Kansas City. The city’s homicide record for one year is 153.

Several families who received surprise Thanksgiving baskets said the homicides of their loved ones remain unsolved. SHANE KEYSER skeyser@kcstar.com

Temple said she wishes could have given a surprise to all the families affected by homicide this year.

Cortez Hanley was one of the 130. He was one of the victims in a triple shooting in June that left three dead at the 7100 block of Monroe Avenue.

That case remains unsolved as well. Hanley’s mother, Michelle Miller, stopped by the Banneker Charter School to receive her Thanksgiving meal. Miller said said she’s heard nothing from Kansas City police about the status of the investigation.

“I know somebody out there knows something,” she said.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt