Antoinette and Cloe

Antoinette St. John, left, of Branson, spent months saving money so she could adopt a family at Christmas. As a result, she saved nearly $200 and helped make a happy Christmas for Cloe Burk, 5, of Galena.

    A Branson fourth-grade student decided that what she wanted for Christmas was to make the holiday special for someone else — someone who would not, otherwise, be able to have presents.

    According to her mother, Antoinette St. John, 9, a student at Branson Cedar Ridge Elementary, started saving her allowance six or seven months ago, and raised money by selling some of her own belongings at online sights. All of this was so she could adopt a family at Christmas. Through her efforts, Antoinette managed to raise almost $200.

    When Antoinette first approached her mother about adopting a family, her mother, Renee Garrison, contacted the division of family services and was referred to Love, INC. The organization assigned Antoinette to Laken Maples and her 5-year-old daughter Cloe Burk, of Galena.

    According to Maples, Cloe has faced many challenges in her life. She has spina bifida, a birth defect that creates a cleft in the spinal column; hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of fluid on the brain; and club feet, making in necessary for Cloe to wear braces on her feet.

    According to Maples, doctors thought Cloe would never be able walk.

    “But she started walking about 2 (years old), Maples said.

    The gifts Antoinette purchased were an Olaf stuffed toy and blanket, an Olaf necklace, Olaf boots, several outfits, a winter coat, dresses, art supplies and more.

    Antoinette and her mother met Cloe and her mother at McDonald’s in downtown Branson.

    “The look on Cloe’s face was priceless,” Garrison said in an email.

    Maples said the experience is hard for her to describe.

    “I can’t ever explain how amazing it was,” she said. “It really helped us a lot.”

    Garrison said it was rewarding for her daughter, as well.

    “Antoinette described this as the best Christmas Present that she ever got, being able to meet Cloe and bring her gifts,” Garrison said.

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