One former Waynedale family is venturing to make the world a little brighter – one rock at a time.
Laura Heffelfinger-Fields and her two young daughters have begun an at-home project to pick up stray rocks, paint them with fanciful designs, colors and sayings and hide them for others to discover.
The catch is, the ladies also emblazon the stones with the web address of their Facebook group, appropriately called “Fort Wayne Rocks.” This way, once strangers discover the decorated rocks, people can share where and when they were found.
In actuality, the notion is one that has become immensely popular and swept the nation – and even gone international.
The website for the Kindness Rock Project (www.thekindnessrockproject.com) displays a map of everywhere folks have reported finding rocks that were painted and hidden. Hundreds of markers dot a United States map on the site, showing every location where decorated stones were discovered and reported. Some markers even hover over Hawaii, Japan and the Atlantic Ocean.
“Our goal is simple,” the website notes, “to connect many and create a kinder world.”
To that end, the site instructs visitors that anyone is welcome to join the project, though they do offer a few suggestions for novices looking to join the rock hiding game.
Step One, they say (obviously): Get some rocks. A flat, smooth one works best.
Next, prepare your rock by spraying them or painting them with non-toxic spray or paint available at any craft store.
Third, use oil-based Sharpie pens to create your artwork on the stone.
And finally, apply a final coat of non-toxic clear sealant to protect it from the elements. The website suggest Modge Podge clear sealant.
Heffelfinger-Fields is a stay-at-home mother who homeschools her two daughters, Natalia, age four, and Gabby, 18 months. She said the original idea for a local group came when her little girl was feeling down about all the bad news she’d been reading and hearing.
“Natalia was kind of like, ‘Why is the world so ugly right now?’ And I wanted to show her that you’re never too old, too young, too big or too small to brighten someone’s day – one rock at a time,” Heffelfinger-Fields said.
So, Heffelfinger-Fields and her daughter painted a rock and hid it at the Marathon gas station near the corner of Dupont and Lima Roads. It was discovered by a stranger and shared on the Fort Wayne Rocks site not long after.
Since then, the group has exploded to about 468 members, she said.
Kristy Smith Keener, the administrator of another page on Facebook devoted to painting and hiding rocks, said her daughter found a similar rock when the family traveled to Punta Gorda, Florida this summer, and her whole family took an interest in the pastime. “We loved the idea of having a project the entire family could enjoy and it got us out of the house and into the community. We’re overwhelmed by the response we’ve had to this.”
And although Heffelfinger-Fields’ family recently moved to Hartford City, they plan to continue their day-brightening hobby in their new hometown.
“You do what you can,” Heffelfinger-Fields said, “It’s mostly about making people feel good and important. We want to show that there are still good people out there, and that people are always helping.”
Four-year-old Natalia agrees that the pursuit is one that brightens the world – even if it’s just a little bit at a time.
“I like making the world a prettier place,” Natalia said, “just like Mommy.”
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