On Saturday, kids at the LifePath Christian Ministry Women and Children's shelter experienced a Christmas a little early with some of their favorite heroes.

The Central PA Avengers, a group of cosplayers — performance artists dressed up as characters — who give back to the central state region, stopped at the building to give out gifts, play games and color with the children, ages 6 through 12.

Familiar faces such as Captain America, Wolverine, Black Widow, Harley Quinn and even Elsa, of the hit Disney movie "Frozen," spent time with the children to brighten their holiday season.

Heroes: Matthew Carey, CEO of LifePath Christian Ministry, formerly known as the York Rescue Mission, was watching the children interact and play with their new costumed friends.

"These guys have been absolutely so wonderful," Carey said of the group.

He said their appearance at the shelter really makes the kids' day.

"Some of these kids don't talk to a lot of people," he said, adding that the familiarity of the heroes often allows them to "come out of their shell."

The children were either from the after-school program or from one of the ministry's shelters in York City.

Pat Jennings, of York City, is the youth director for the after-school program with the ministry. To her, the joy in the children as they played and colored was apparent.

"You see their smiling faces," Jennings said.

Kids: About 15 kids filled a room in the back of the building to see their heroes. Jennings noted a lot of the kids knew the superheroes in the room.

Mekahi Rhoades, 10, was particularly fond of Wolverine, who was dressed in full Santa Claus attire.

"(Wolverine) never gets hurt," Mekahi said, explaining why he likes the character.

While he enjoyed seeing Wolverine, Mekahi said, his favorite part of the day was getting a toy. He was playing with a small Millennium Falcon, a ship from the "Star Wars" movie series, that was given to him when the heroes showed up. Mekahi said he's never watched the movies but was still happy to get the toy. Each child in attendance received a toy.

Asked if he liked superheroes, 11-year-old Mahkai Ferguson responded, "Yes, all of them." Mahkai said his favorite superhero is Deadpool, but that hero wasn't at the shelter Saturday.

"Black Widow said that he had to take a rest," Mahkai said.

Mahkai said his favorite part of the day was seeing the superheroes. He noted that in Deadpool's absence, Black Widow was his favorite.

Giving back: Donning a Captain America costume, Jason Johnson, the director of Central PA Avengers, said the group is happy to give back.

"We keep coming out," he said. He noted that the kids seem to love their stop.

About eight members of the group appeared in costume for the kids.

"It feels great," Johnson said. "That's the best way to say it."

Carey said seeing the children so happy was a joy to witness.

"I really can't put into words how I feel," he said.

Carey added that he liked seeing how the costumed heroes interacted with the kids.

"I love that they are having just as good a time," he said.

For more information on LifePath Christian Ministries, check here.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

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