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Wisconsin family paints, hides uplifting rocks for others

May 19, 2018

This May 8, 2018, photo shows rocks with different designs or positive messages at Riverside Park in Janesville, Ore. The decorated rocks are scattered around the park for others to find. (Angela Major/The Janesville Gazette via AP)

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — While walking into the now-closed Pick ’n Save on Janesville’s south side more than a year ago, Tasha LaVeen’s kids pointed out a colorful rock sitting on a trash can.

Their curiosity piqued, Caleb and Chelsea, now 11 and 9, pestered their mom about the rock while they shopped. On their way out, the three took a closer look.

The rock was hand painted and had a laminated card beneath that let the LaVeens know they had found a “random rock of kindness.” The card instructed whoever found the rock to either keep it or hide it for someone else to find, LaVeen said.

After searching the internet, LaVeen discovered painting and leaving rocks to brighten the days of strangers is a common hobby. From then on, the family has been painting and hiding their own rocks.

So far, they’ve painted 96.

“It’s gotten us family together time, and . you’re spreading smiles,” LaVeen told The Janesville Gazette .

Late last month, Rock County resident Tracie Gaddy started a Facebook group, Rock Co Rocks, for those who like to paint and hide stones for others to find.

“We’re inundated with such bad stuff all the time,” Gaddy said. “I just thought we need something” to brighten people’s days.

In just a couple weeks, the group has gained more than 730 members. Gaddy has heard from acquaintances in other states where rock-painting groups have membership numbering in the tens of thousands, she said.

“Obviously, the more members we get, the better it’s gonna be,” Gaddy said. “It seems like people are really interested in it.”

Rocks can be painted with whatever might make someone else smile. That could be uplifting messages, a colorful sunset or even a depiction of Garfield, Gaddy said.

“It’s just meant to be a nice, unexpected inspiration for the person who found it,” she said.

The LaVeen family often visits parks to hunt for rocks. They spent Tuesday evening at Riverside Park painting their own rocks, LaVeen said.

“Usually, anytime we find a rock, we make sure to leave a rock. It’s kind of a fun swapping game for us,” LaVeen said.

Those who want to paint rocks should buy them from a craft store and not take them from people’s landscaping or yards. Painted rocks also shouldn’t be left in state or national parks, Gaddy said.

Gaddy said those who want to join the group should paint several rocks at once.

“Make a day of it,” she said. “I always tell people you don’t have to be some artistic genius. You just gotta do it, and it gets easier over time because you’ll learn how to do it.”

Gaddy encouraged those painting rocks to include a message directing whoever finds them to the Facebook group so it continues to grow. Residents should post photos of the rocks they find in the group so whoever hid the rock knows it has been discovered, and those who take rocks they find should paint new ones to put out into the community, Gaddy said.

Gaddy has been dealing with a family emergency since starting the group, but she plans to soon paint and hide rocks of her own to join the fun.

“I think people really gravitate to it because it’s just a feel-good thing to do,” she said.

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Information from: The Janesville Gazette, http://www.gazetteextra.com

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