South Bend family surprised with Christmas they didn't expect

It is the fourth year the South Bend Police Department FOP 36 is giving back to its community with a holiday program called Santa Cause.

Sgt. Dave Beaty is one of the main forces behind the program and hand-delivered a full trunk of gifts to one of this year's recipients.

Jennifer Shaffer is a mother of 3, and told her kids they wouldn't be able to have Christmas this year. Monday morning, her tree skirt was bare. But by 1 that afternoon, gifts were pouring into her home.

"This year was the worst year financially for me," an emotional Shaffer says. "I'm so thankful and greatful because my kids would not have this if it weren't for that [FOP 36 Santa Cause program].

It was Shaffer's neighbor and friend, Emily Marvel who suggested Shaffer and her family receive gifts. She says she knows her friend is a hard worker, but times are tough, especially around the holidays.

"She's a hard working mother and she definitely deserves this and her kids do as well," says Marvel.

And thanks to Sgt. Beaty and his "elves," Shaffer will have the holiday she deserves.

"I had a good christmas when I was growing up. It's hard to think about families that wouldn't have one otherwise to not experience the magic of christmas and not have it be like any other day," says Beaty.

The funds for the program came from personal donations from FOP officers and one outside donor who saw a newspaper clipping about the program's past. FOP 36 was able to adopt 8 families this year, but with more community support, members say they'd like to continue expanding.

If you want to give back to Santa Cause, you can contact Sgt. Dave Beaty at (574) 245-6107 or email him at

FOP 36: P.O. Box 299, South Bend, IN 46624

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