SCHUYLER FALLS - David R. Justus is hoping for a Christmas miracle.
This year marks the 40th season he and his wife, Marion, will help provide toys for children at Christmastime through their organization, "Justus for the Children." However, this year could be the final year of the program.
Earlier this year, the North Countryman first reported how Justus for the Children was beginning its 40th year with an approximately $7,000 deficit.
"We're still a little bit over $7,000 down right now," said Justus, who previously noted he and his wife, who operate Justus for the Children from their Soper Street home, had to take out a loan to finish funding the program for the 2009 Christmas season.
"This year is way worse than last year," he said.
Justus for the Children has fallen financially short due largely to the increased number of people the organization serves, said Justus. When Justus for the Children was started in 1960, it initially helped only families in the surrounding community. Over the years, it grew to help those throughout Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. And, though that has led to further strain on the program's bottom line, Justus said he feels it's important to not turn away any family experiencing hard times, especially during the holidays. That's because, during his childhood, Justus went without many Christmases. He vowed that when he grew up other kids wouldn't go through the same thing, if he could help it.
"We want kids to have something under the tree," said Justus. "It's important. But, just when we get one loan paid off, it's time to get another one to start all over again."
"I don't want to quit, but I don't want to dig the hole so deep we can't get out of it," he added.
The success of Justus for the Children has relied on the generosity from friends and supporters of the program over the years, including American Legion Post 1619 in West Plattsburgh and members of the New York State Corrections Officer and Police Benevolent Association. However, this year, NYSCOPBA members were unable to provide a financial contribution to Justus for the Children, leaving a big gap in the program's funding.
"That's at least $4,000 right there," said Justus. "But, we're still going to try to pull this thing off."
The Justuses will continue gathering donations of new and unused toys as the program's distribution season begins and are reaching out to the community, in particular larger organizations and businesses, to help them in their mission.
"Anything anyone can do will help," said Justus.
Those interested in helping Justus for the Children may reach the Justuses at 643-0855. Donations may also be sent in care of Justus for the Children, 316 Soper St., Morrisonville N.Y. 12962.