Operation Maine Memorial (with photos)

By Haley Burton
By Casey Killian

December 17, 2013 Updated Dec 17, 2013 at 7:37 PM EDT

Town of Maine, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Nearly 500 gifts were given to students at Maine Memorial from an area church.

Christmas came early for Pre-K through fifth graders at the school as each student received a gift from Union Center Christian Church.

The church packed and filled hundreds of shoeboxes with gifts. Their effort was called Operation Maine Memorial.

About 600 volunteers from the church packed each box individually. The shoeboxes included items such as school supplies, winter hats and gloves, candy and small toys. Each box was filled with nearly $30 worth of gifts.

The school held an assembly Tuesday morning to thank the church.

"This is a season of hope and joy for us. It's a season which we celebrate how everything has changed and we just wanted to share this hope and joy with the children here in our community at Maine Memorial Elementary school," said Blake Shipp, Pastor.

This is the first time Union Center Christian Church has done Operation Maine Memorial. They normally send shoeboxes overseas through Samaritan's Purse's program Operation Christmas Child.

"This is the school in our own community. We're just right down the road and we just wanted to say ‘Hey, we see these kids and we care about them’. We want them to know that they are loved and they are seen by us," said Shipp.