SCHUYLER FALLS - The holidays are over, but that doesn't mean David R. Justus' work is over, too.
The 68-year-old Schuyler Falls man runs an organization known as "Justus for the Children," which provides toys for children at Christmastime. This past Christmas, Justus celebrated his 39th year of helping the community, but he now fears the effort may not see a 40th season.
"We're about $7,000 in the hole right now," said Justus, who operates Justus for the Children out of his home with his wife, Marion. "We had to borrow money to finish 2009 and we're already behind for this year."
Justus for the Children has grown so much in the amount of families it serves, said Justus, starting in their community and expanding to help families in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. It's important for Justus to keep the organization going, he said, knowing how it is to go without during the holidays.
"Some Christmases we didn't get anything and you don't forget that because when you'd go to school, all the other kids had new stuff and you'd get made fun of," said Justus. "Kids can be cruel. I said then if there was any way in hell I could do it, I'd make sure other kids would have plenty to eat and they'd have a good Christmas."
When he started Justus for the Children in 1960, it was by no means the organization it is today, which has helped as many as 1,000 kids during a holiday season.
"When I started out, we helped two families that had about six children altogether," said Justus. "I thought that was great. Last year, we helped 727 kids." Justus credits that to the help he's been receiving from the American Legion Post 1619 in West Plattsburgh and members of the New York State Corrections Officer and Police Benevolent Association.