They’re popping up all over town – from parks to walking paths to landscape planters inside of commercial business areas.
And for those who are getting swept away with the new painted rock phenomenon that aims to spread kindness to complete and total strangers, it’s a fun and rewarding activity that they hope people will pay forward when they find one of the ornately painted rocks somewhere in the community.
“It’s all about putting a smile on somebody’s face,” said Rosalinda Valencia – who recently formed a Manteca Rocks group on Facebook and uses the group as a place for people to post pictures of the rocks they find. “I hid one rock outside of Dameron Hospital, and the lady that found it contacted me and said that she needed to find it on that particular day – it was the day she decided to take her son off of life support.
“It’s fun and it’s relaxing and it’s something that anybody can do and people are starting to catch on.”
An outgrowth of The Kindness Rocks Project, Manteca Rocks has quickly grown to have more than 150 members in less than a month. Every day somebody posts a photo of an ornately painted inspiration rock that they found somewhere in the community.
Sometimes people post hints about where to look, or where they recently hid a fresh batch of hand-painted rocks. Nearly all of those being hidden have a note painted on the back as to where to post a photo when the rock is found.
According to its website, the Kindness Rocks Project “was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way” – operating under the assumption that all of those who find a rock, will then turn around and place one of their own to continue the mission.
Marty Henderson, who said she found some of the rocks at a local park while walking with her grandchildren, but didn’t know quite what to do with them at the time, says that she went home and looked up the practice and is now planning on getting involved.
“We didn’t quite know what they were at first, but after seeing online what people were doing, I have a day planned with my granddaughters where we are going to paint our own rocks and go out and hide them,” Henderson said. “I think it’s a great idea and it’s something that’s fun for the whole family to do together. If it can brighten somebody’s day just a little bit – and I saw how excited my grandchildren were when they found the rocks – then I’m all for this a new hobby.”
So far, nearly every city in San Joaquin County has a Facebook group that highlights the painted rock phenomenon. Valencia believes that it will grow even more as people begin to understand the intentions behind the painted rocks, and how easy it is to participate.
So far to date she has painted nearly 30 rocks. She has included her grandchildren in what has become a family activity, and even has a half-brother in Massachusetts that is willing to start something similar in his town. Earlier this month, she said, a rock from Ohio was found in Manteca – proof that the practice is nationwide.
And it helps, she said, that you have to get outside to participate.
“I hate exercise but I like going out and hunting for rocks,” Valencia said. “You have to go out and you have to look for them and for a lot of people that means getting out of the house.
“It’s something that everybody can do, and it’s just a lot of fun.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.