Ham's Prairie teen makes Christmas special at St. Jude

Giving back is part of the holiday season for many in the Heart of Missouri and to one mid-Missouri teenager who took her parent's charitable idea to a whole new level.

Emma Clardy, 15, loves children. That's why she volunteers after school at the Looney Tunes Daycare in her hometown of Ham's Prairie.

But her love for kids goes way beyond that.

Its created a sort of toy store in Clardy's living room: from Play-Doh to GloWorms, to hot ticket gaming systems.

Here's how it all got started:

"My wife and I just had a conversation with the kids one night about if they would be willing to forgo a portion of their Christmas gifts just so we could make the Christmas a little bit brighter for some kids down at St. Jude," Emma's father Scott Clardy said.

Emma and her brother were on board. But Emma wanted to do more.

She got her message out to family, friends, and the Ham's Prairie community: Let's make Christmas at St. Jude the best it can be.

"We're very proud of her that she even wanted to do this," Scott said. "But even more than that, we're really just proud of the community. Its been a community-wide effort."

Churches collected gifts, businesses matched donations, and classes and offices held competitions to see who could bring in the most presents.

Emma also had the kids at her daycare make tote bags for the kids at St. Jude.

"We're just really privileged and I thought it would be nice for them to learn about kids who don't get stuff," Emma said. "And they could just give back at a young age."

Their fundraising goal was $2,000.

In all, Emma, her family, and the Ham's Prairie community raised over $10,000 worth of gifts for kids of all ages.

"I don't think that people realize there's babies there, but there's also 18 year olds that go to St. Jude," Emma said. "So we got iTunes gift certificates and a Wii for the older kids."

The Clardys said its hard to imagine their little girl is responsible for this Christmas miracle.

"Its rewarding and it helps you know you must be doing something right," Scott said.

The Clardy Family will watch their project come to an end when they personally deliver the gifts to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis before Christmas.

They had to get a covered trailer and a pick-up truck just to fit all the gifts in one-trip.