- Associated Press - Sunday, July 30, 2017

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) - Is the rock making a comeback?

First, there were pet rocks in the 1970s and now painted kindness rocks are making waves throughout the world and in South Arkansas.

Painted rocks have recently been showing up in various locations in and around El Dorado and appearing on the local Facebook scene at an astonishing rate in the past few days.

The goal is simple - to promote random acts of kindness to unsuspecting recipients - whether by painting and dropping inspirational rocks or some other creative way to bring kindness into the world.

The El Dorado News-Times (https://bit.ly/2h3JFMF ) reports that people who find a painted rock are asked to snap a photo and add it to the group, 870 Painted Rock Hunt #870PRH. Then take the rock to a different location and hide it. People who choose to create and hide rocks are asked to follow two rules: hide rocks on public property only and do not hide in grassy areas, as this could cause damage to lawnmowers and property.

Young and old alike are participating in the project. Rocks have been left by lakes and rivers, in plain sight on the ground, in the limbs of trees and locally near Walmart, at churches, on the square in downtown El Dorado, at Barton Library, gas pumps, House of Wylie, Dr. Robert Watson’s office, HOPE Landing, South Arkansas Arboretum, Union County Courthouse, Kozy Kitchen and at other locations in El Dorado, Smackover, Camden, Huttig, Strong, Warren and numerous other locations.

A request for readers to share their “kindness rock experiences” with the News-Times via Facebook yielded numerous posts and photos.

“Now more than ever, kindness can become a connecting force for good. Many people, including myself, are feeling a sense of overwhelm, unease and restlessness due to the current events taking place in our world today, and I believe that our united strength can be cultivated through simple random acts of kindness. Each of us can make a positive difference,” said Megan Murphy of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a women’s empowerment coach, on thekindnessrocksproject.com.

Murphy said she lost her parents at a young age and on morning walks on the beach, she would look for “signs,” such as a heart-shaped rock or a piece of sea glass.

“I perceived these small beach treasures as ‘signs’ or as a divine message and the random inspiration I needed to signify that things would be OK,” she said.

Thus The Kindness Rocks Project was born.

“It started as a hobby of one - painting and dropping a few rocks at a time, when something amazing happened. I began receiving messages from strangers about how much the rock they found meant to them. So I stepped up my rock painting and added social media, a website and encouraged others to join me. This hobby has now turned into a movement due to the energy of many,” she said.

A map on the website shows markers designating areas where The Kindness Rock Project has appeared and locations include hundreds of sites in the southern states and throughout the country, in Mexico, Puerto Rico, numerous islands in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, in Canada, Japan, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greenland, Iceland, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Australia and many other countries.

Locally, Brittany Stanton posted photos of rocks painted as dream catchers and mermaids.

“Here are my rocks. I think it’s an awesome new hobby for kids and adults alike,” Stanton wrote. “It’s so much fun painting rocks, hiding them and finding other people’s they have hidden. After finding them you can choose to relocate them or even adopt a rock! It gets people out of the house and out from in front of the TV - all day.”

“Had so much fun painting these. Hoping to do more soon,” Tonya Lafever wrote along with photos of her rocks painted with hearts, the word “faith,” a sun, watermelon and minions.

Melissa Hines posted a photo of a young boy and girl in a car with several rocks displayed on the center console.

“These were all found in El Dorado - between Walmart and two different gas stations,” she said.

Stacy Ward Rainey posted a photo of a young boy holding a pink rock and said, “My son found this one in El Dorado and on the back it says it’s from Warren.”

Katelyn Wood, who said she placed her most popular rock, which says “I’m forgiven,” where she works in Camden, said the activity is a fun way to get children outside in the summer.

“I think it’s a great idea to get the kids out and enjoy their summer outside! Also, makes for a fun family art project to sit down together to paint,” Wood wrote.

Other echoed the sentiment, with Sharla Williams Orren writing that it’s “exciting to see kids enjoying the outdoors without electronics involved!”

A photo showing a table full of rocks, paints, paint brushes and other supplies, with two young girls waiting to paint, was posted by Tiffany Grace Carter.

“We are preparing to paint our rocks today! My girls are so excited!” she said.

Samantha Ann Smith said she found a rock that was painted to look like a cellphone. She posted on the News-Times Facebook page, “Found this morning (Thursday) at Russell Cellular in Camden. Love it. We are keeping this one. It’s perfect.”

“We heard about this from friends in Texas, so we checked it out, painted some rocks and went to see if they were found. The kids were so excited they run to each spot,” said Natonya Vargas.

“I found this rock today when I came to work. It was placed on the metal ledge by my front door. I am the administrative assistant at Smackover High School,” Lois Nutter said. She posted a photo of a rock painted gray with Facebook #870PRH.

Some have even added another component to the popular activity. Brooke S. Palmer posted a photo of two children with rocks and trash bags.

“We also pick up trash around our town while hunting and hiding,” she said.

___

Information from: El Dorado News-Times, https://www.eldoradonews.com


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