Operation Santa visits families of fallen, wounded CPD officers, partner of Officer Ella French

ByRob Hughes and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Santa delivers presents to families of fallen, wounded CPD officers
Operation Santa delivered presents to the families of fallen and injured Chicago police officers, including the partner of Officer Ella French.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The big man in red teamed up with Chicago police to deliver presents across the city and suburbs for Operation Santa on Saturday.

Santa arrived in style to Macy's to pick up presents with some very special recipients in mind.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation's Operation Santa keeps the families of fallen and seriously injured police officers top-of-mind over the holidays.

"Children will no longer see their mothers or their fathers. So, we have to be there for their families. We tell them we're going to be there, and we're going to be there," said CPD Supt. Larry Snelling.

Chicago police moonlighted as Santa's helpers, loading up vehicles and heading out to 16 homes between Saturday and Sunday, spreading smiles and Christmas spirit.

"It's breathtaking. It's just unbelievable. I can't thank them enough for what they do for my family, and it's amazing," said CPD Officer Carlos Yanez.

First stop of the day was the Yanez's home. He was shot twice during the same August 2021 shooting that killed his partner, Ella French.

"I always think about the officers that didn't make it. And, it's just, they weren't given a chance," Yanez said.

Yanez says for him, every day is a gift, but on this day, no one was more excited than his 5-year-old son, CJ, who received his very own brand-new bike.

"It's just amazing to see that we're so blessed, that we have such support from the Chicago Police Department as well as the Chicago Memorial Police Foundation," Yanez said.

Yanez said he still deals with the injuries he sustained in that 2021 shooting. He is unable to walk without the help of a brace on his leg and his vision is gone in one eye.

But, he's still grateful, he says, for the gift of life.