Spreading kindness with Painting Pocahontas

Rocks with colorful images and inspirational quotes are placed around the county as part of the Painting Pocahontas County project. The project is a way to spread kindness and brighten someone’s day with a special message. Photos courtesy of Painting Pocahontas County Facebook page

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

If there’s one thing in the natural world that there is no shortage of, it’s rocks. Whether they are bumpy, smooth or porous, the earth is covered in pebbles, stones, rocks and boulders.

Recently, a trend of painting rocks and hiding them for others to find has spread across the nation, beginning with The Kindness Rocks Project, founded by Megan Murphy, a women’s empowerment coach.

In May, friends Erica Turner and Alycia Pete Bickford, who both work at Snowshoe Mountain Resort, decided it was time for Pocahontas County to join the trend and the pair founded Painting Pocahontas County.

They started a Facebook page and began posting photos of rocks to get the ball rolling. It quickly caught on and now, with only a month of participation, the Facebook page has nearly 500 followers.

“We thought, there’s so much bad in the world and so many people with depression, we thought it would be a good idea because it might brighten someone’s day and it’s fun for the kids,” Bickford said. “It’s like a scavenger hunt.”

Turner said she first learned about painting rocks from her sister who lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Rockbridge Rocks was founded in memory of a student at the high school who passed away as a result of a car accident. The students and community painted rocks to place at the school and then they began placing them throughout the county so more individuals could enjoy the rocks.While the rocks are fun and colorful, they are also inspirational. Many of the rocks have quotes, words of encouragement and even Bible verses.

“We’re all struggling in this life, you never know,” Turner said. “People are putting inspirational words. People have been putting Bible scriptures on them. It’s endless. It’s good fun for the kids and it might brighten somebody’s day.”

To participate is simple – paint some rocks, post pictures on the Painting Pocahontas County Facebook page and then place them around the county. Those who find rocks are asked to post pictures and re-hide them somewhere else.

There are times where individuals find rocks they really enjoy and want to keep them. Turner and Bickford said that is fine, just replace the rock with a new one.

“We’re just encouraging people to take pictures and then re-hide them,” Bickford said. “That’s why I made the Facebook page, to see what it would do.”

Participants in Painting Pocahontas County post photos on the project’s Facebook page to share the rocks they found and the ones they are hiding around the county.

Both ladies said they are shocked at the response the project has received. They thought a few people would catch on, but it has taken the county by storm and has brought people together.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Bickford said. “I was really surprised that so many got into it. A lot of people are finding and hiding.”

Along with making trips around the county a little more special with an added scavenger hunt, it has also given families a new project to do together.

Now that school is out for summer, kids are looking for things to do and Bickford said her kids are excited about painting and finding the rocks.

“My kids go crazy to do it,” she said. “We sit at the picnic table and paint a few.”

Turner and her five year old son paint them together, as well.

“My son has painted some,” Turner said. “His attention span is a little short, so he will paint awhile, then run off to play, but he really likes it. He’s wanting to hide them.”

The Facebook page is open to all so anyone can join the group and get updates on the rocks. For more information on the project, visit the Painting Pocahontas Facebook page.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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