8-Year-Old Makes and Donates Teddy Bears

James Martin in New Jersey, December 2010.
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. -- Just when you thought the holidays had been hijacked for good by crass commercial interests - along comes a little boy to set everyone straight. CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod reports on "The American Spirit Of Giving."

Forget the red suit, white beard, and belly. Sometimes Santa goes for a slightly different look.

Justin Martin is all the Santa the children at an inner city school in Newark, N.J., could want.

"This is my third year doing it, and so far in all the years I've done it I've given away 2,000 bears," Martin said.

Just 8 years old, Justin has a deeper understanding of the holiday spirit than many adults ever will.

"What feels better," Axelrod asked. "The presents you get or all these bears that you give?"

"The bears that I give," Justin said. "I don't know why."

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Three years ago, when he was just five, Justin got to thinking. "I was wondering if everyone in the world had a bear like mine."

(Scroll down to watch the video.)

When his father told him they didn't, Justin started raising enough money to give away a thousand bears to needy and sick kids each holiday season.

"It's fun yeah to go around and give bears to less fortunate children," Justin said.

Justin's father Quin said, "Whatever he does he just has a big heart, he goes at it very, very hard."

Justin Charity Bear Fund

While Justin's charity is clearly a labor of love, we can't stress enough how much labor is involved. Justin doesn't just deliver the bears he gives away - he makes them as well.

Justin works at a local Build-A-Bear workshop which provides bears at a discount. Still he needs to raise $25,000 annually to meet his goal.

"It's better to give than to receive," Justin said.

It's a holiday lesson that never gets old, especially powerful when the teacher's so young.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.