LAS VEGAS - Brenda Villatorro recently arrived in style to North Las Vegas Medical Center, sporting a holiday costume and accompanied by "Santa Clause". They delivered holiday cheer and thousands of cookies to injured military veterans.
"A lot of my friends and family members served during Vietnam, and they didn't receive a warm welcome when they came home, and it broke my heart," she said.
Villatorro is an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Many of her students are veterans. Seven years ago, they started baking cookies for troops. It's turned into a healthy competition over the years.
"When we hit the seven thousand mark this year, my students said, ‘We have to break over ten thousand.' We continued to make more, ten thousand, one hundred and fifty five cookies," she said.
Nellis Air Force Base picked up most of the cookies and delivered them around the globe. "Baghdad, Afghanistan, a new place this year, my cookies went to Djibouti," she said.
Every cookie is hand decorated. Each one comes with a handwritten note.
"We also include photographs of us making the cookies, so they could see the love this country has for them," Villatorro said. "They are our youngest, brightest, bravest."
"What you're doing for the people and overseas makes a little bit of difference, to get that little bit of taste of home to where you feel a little bit of normalcy when you're out overseas," said Villatorro's colleague William Stine.
8 News NOW is rewarding Brenda Villatorro's efforts, awarding her $800 as part of its weekly series Acts of Kindness.