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Families get early holiday treat

Karl Horeis

Nicole Richardson opened the door to her apartment after the doorbell rang but found no one there. At her feet was a full Thanksgiving dinner in a box -turkey, stuffing, an apple pie, cranberry sauce, bottle of sparkling cider and more. In the parking lot two people in dark clothing ran off.

“Thank you so much!” she called after them.

The Hilltop Community Church youth group had struck again, as they did at 107 other homes Saturday evening. For 10 years teens in the group have delivered the dinners anonymously, ringing the door bell and running “doorbell ditch” style.

Richardson was emotional after reading a letter left with the box of food.

“We hope this encourages you and makes you smile,” she read from the letter. “With love, from Jesus.”

The employee of a Dayton daycare center said the meal would help her and her boyfriend feed their 16-month old daughter, Eden.

“We’ve been so stressed out lately, thinking, ‘How are we going to feed our daughter? How are we going to dress her for winter?'”

The dark figures in the parking lot did their part to help. They were Hilltop Community Church youth group members Caleb Prudhomme, 16, and Jimmy Pierce, 17.

“I like to do this because it’s a great outreach and it shows people about God,” said Prudhomme.

The pair, along with their drivers Wayne and Leah Carlson of Jacks Valley, were one of 19 teams making deliveries from Dayton to the Gardnerville Ranchos. Like commandoes in movies, there was a red team, a blue team and an orange team. Prudhomme and Pierce were “team pewter.”

Members of the congregation suggest homes where the meals should be delivered, then they raise the funds to pay for the food.

“We spent at least $2,000 on food,” said youth pastor P.J. Lewis wearing a camouflaged jacket, pants and hat.

He started the commando project 10 years ago, though he’s not looking for credit.

During an evening church service he said a blessing for the teens before they headed out onto the icy streets.

“Lord, I pray that it would be done in your name, so that it will glorify you and not ourselves. That’s really what it’s about.”

After the 40 teens finished their rounds delivering food to needy families in the area, they returned to the church for hot chocolate and chili made by Marlys and Duane Meelun.

“It’s very good stuff,” said Sheri Lewis, the youth pastor’s wife.

The youth group notifies local law enforcement agencies before they perform their annual commando mission.