Their mission, which they chose to accept, was to make the lonely people smile.
Disabilities and age and a cold, slate-gray day - a possible recipe for sadness - met their match Friday morning in a small gaggle of kiddos who needed no phone booth to change into their superhero outfits.
Hearts sewn onto their capes, the 3- and 4-year-olds at Missoula Community School - members of the shadowy Superheroes of Kindness agency - leapt tall snowbanks in a few little bounds and walked faster than a speeding turtle on their way to deliver construction-paper flowers and drawings to the residents of the Flor-Haven Assisted Living home on South Third Street West.
The agency is a clandestine program of the school, a collection of preschool superheroes dedicated not to thwarting the bad guys, but to extending compassion.
"Superheroes usually have to hurt someone," said agency leader (and schoolteacher) Kristal Burns. "Well, we can be superheroes by being kind."
First, the briefing: "There are 14 people here, and they can't do everything by themselves, so they need a little help," Burns told the heroes, outlining the reasons for the mission.
Second, the strategy: "We should try to talk with them, and say ‘Hello, I have a picture for you and I'm here to make you smile.' "
And third, the load-out: "Here, take a flower."
Superman got Earth to rotate backward with his speed. The Superheroes of Kindness made a cold day warm with crayons and construction paper.
"It's lovely," said a Flor-Haven resident as she was handed her paper flower. "Thank you."
And on it went, tiny hands delivering a little joy to the folks at Flor-Haven.
A superhero's work is often fervent and brief, and it was on Friday.
Plus, it was superhero lunchtime.
"Remember," said Burns, as the mission wrapped up, "the superhero way is to say goodbye and smile and wave."
Reporter Jamie Kelly can be reached at 523-5254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.