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Christmas Comes Early For Henryville Kids

Last updated on Friday, July 27, 2012

(HENRYVILLE) - Henryville students will head back to class in a new and improved building next month after tornadoes destroyed the town’s school in March.

Renovations are almost complete, and the school is loaded with upgrades. But students are also in for another surprise before school starts.

Boxes filled with toys are on their way to southern Indiana.

"There will be 14,000 to be distributed throughout the Henryville area and other areas hit by the devastation in March," Pacers Chief Operating Officer Rick Fuson told RTV6's Stacia Matthews.

The Pacers and the Indiana National Guard are bringing Christmas in July to kids in Henryville, such as 8-year-old Mia Gilles. Her family lost everything when the tornado tore through town.

"It's amazing because we lost all the toys that we had, and we didn't get any of them back," Mia said.

"As a mom, you want to protect them as much as you can," said Mia's mom, Trish Gilles. "When your control is taken, you have to lean on other people, and so this is absolutely amazing."

"Meeting this family, who lost their home, their mother's injured, and to be able to give their children just a little something here in July and think about Christmas, yeah, it's a really good day," said Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, of the Indiana National Guard.

The guard will deliver the toys as families can accommodate them.

The school will be ready when its 1,200 students begin the new year next month.

Crews are putting the finishing touches on the building, and students have registered.

It's one less thing families like the Gilles family have to worry about.

"Supplies have been donated, so we don't have to buy backpacks, pencils and paper and all that," said Darrell Gilles, Mia's father. "They've got the transportation worked out. It's amazing... five months later, but it's ready."

Teachers start coming back next week, and students return to class until Aug. 7.

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