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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Rocks, hand painted with pictures and kind words, are popping up all over the Olney area this summer.
They have been spotted at various locations and events, including the Farmer’s Market, the Women’s Board Picnic and Bazaar, parks, businesses and neighborhoods.
Lucky finders can thank the Nelson family of Olney, who is determined to spread kindness within their community.
The Kindness Rocks project was founded by Megan Murphy, a resident of Cape Cod, to inspire others through randomly placed rocks. Her idea was to recruit every person who stumbles upon a rock to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through acts of kindness. The movement has spread throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Kristen Nelson said she learned about the movement on Facebook.
“My husband and I have two daughters,” she said. “We have been very cognizant about Random Acts of Kindness, and when I read about this, I thought it was kind of cool and something that we could do.”
She searched and could not find a Kindness Rocks project in Olney, so she began one by starting a Facebook Group, www.facebook.com/groups/olneyrocks/. Complete instructions are listed on the page under the group description.
Nelson, along with her husband Adam and daughters Olivia, 7, and Adelaide, 6, got to work. They started by painting rocks they found in their neighborhood. They spray-painted them, decorated them with kind words, added hashtags #OlneyRocks and #KindnessRocks, and then sealed them.
They later discovered that rocks purchased from a home improvement store are inexpensive and easier to paint because they are smooth.
The Nelsons placed the rocks around their neighborhood and in their favorite places around town, like the fountain at Fair Hill shopping center.
“Everyone seems very happy and my daughters are excited about making people smile and spreading kindness,” Nelson said.
Anyone who finds a rock may keep it, leave it where it was found or hide it all over again.
Participants are encouraged to share photos of the rocks they hide or find on the Facebook page, although those who wish to participate without using Facebook are welcome to do so.
Families, businesses and other organizations are joining in the fun.
Nelson said the Little Gym of Olney is planning a rock-painting event, Olney Elementary School Girl Scout Troop 31005 is planning to paint and share rocks, and Brooke Grove Elementary is planning to include rock painting as part of its Back to School picnic.
“This is just a really easy and fun way to make our neighbors smile,” Nelson said. “People of all ages can participate; it is not just geared toward young children.”
Nelson said The Olney Rocks group is encouraging kind words to be added to each rock, but family-friendly art is also welcome.
“Have fun, smile and enjoy spreading kindness,” she said.
Terri Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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