Eighteen months ago, Jessica Martin of Santa Rosa and business partner Katie Kelley of Petaluma were looking for an outlet to brighten the days of children, adults and seniors.

Keying on her love of cosplay — the love of dressing up as a character from a book, movie or video game — Martin formed a group of like-minded people.

Hope Love and Magic was born.

The group of eight actors and volunteers tours Sonoma County, making appearances at Santa Rosa’s Wednesday Night Market, senior centers, foster homes, civic events and birthday parties.

“We’re here to make you smile,” said Martin. “Our mission is to spread as much joy to everyone and anyone.”

With a collection of over two dozen cosplay outfits, Martin makes her own costumes and aims to “just go and make people smile.”

Hope Love and Magic performs at birthday parties where they’re paid, but the money goes back into the costumes and buying toys for hospitalized children.

“The shy kids come out of their shells,” Martin said. “They are the ones who tell their parents for six months or more about their experience with the characters.”

The group, which hopes to become a charitable nonprofit and branch into other states, recently received one of Santa Rosa’s 15 Merit Awards recognizing volunteers serving the community and improving its quality of life.

Martin said bringing cheer to adults and children “is the most amazing feeling in the world.”

For more about Hope Love and Magic, visit its Facebook page.