Three men slice through the darkness in a white Ford pickup truck with their secret cargo. They carry flashlights and a slip of pink paper with their destination scrawled on the back. They're all older than 30, but approach this mission with the enthusiasm of boys playing G.I. Joe.

Arriving at the Orchid Bay community in Palm City, Florida, team leader Mark MacDonald clicks the gates open with a remote control. They are lucky this time.

"The hard part is getting into these communities that are gated, unless you have someone on the inside," says team member Chuck Stanley, a 40-year-old landscaper.

The men pull up to a house on Coral Tree Lane and get to work. Standing in the truck's bed, Stanley carefully hands over 50 plastic flamingos to MacDonald and teammate Mark Teed as they strategically place the birds all over the lawn of MacDonald's neighbors.

"Watch your eyes," Stanley cautions as he hands over the birds with their 24-inch metal legs.

Frank and Monika Daly's house has just been "flamingoed." The nighttime operation is part of a goodhearted prank to raise money for missions at First United Methodist Church of Stuart, Florida.

Since last fall, three-member crews from the church have planted the plastic birds on unsuspecting neighbors' lawns all over the Treasure Coast area.

For $25, one can send a flock of 50 plastic birds to a friend or neighbor. Whoever gets flamingoed then pays $25 to have them removed or sent to someone else's house. If the recipients do not want to pay, a church crew will pick up the flamingos—after the pink ornaments sit on the lawn for three days.

Monika Daly, who was home at the time of the flock's landing but did not hear the three men, got a good laugh. "I'm doing it to someone else but I'm not telling you who," she says.

Money from the project goes to outreach projects, such as feeding and clothing poor people in the area. First Methodist is one of the state's 10 largest United Methodist congregations.

So far, Operation Flamingo has raised more than $1,200 for outreach. The current waiting time for flamingo "fly by" orders is more than a month.

"It's a way to glorify God," says church member Carey Jackson, who coordinates the project. "It's good for the church and good for the community."

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.