Locals spread kindness with painted rocks


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

Michelle Buck was out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday when she found her first painted rock sitting on a bench. It said “Hope.”

Buck had been having a challenging time, and the rock’s message resonated with her.

“I got goosebumps,” said Buck. “It just gave me that little uplift I needed. When you get something like that when you need it, it is very important to your spirit.”

“Every now and then you need a little something, a little inspiration, something just out of the blue,” Buck added. “You don’t get that often. You have to find that in God and pray, for patience and peace.”

The back of the rock said “Oxford Rocks, like us on Facebook.” So Buck searched for the Facebook group and found that people all over Oxford were painting and hiding rocks throughout town, often posting hints to the rock’s locations.

The next day, Buck journeyed to Oxford Lake, where someone had reported hiding rocks. While out, Buck noticed that friends and families were out having fun searching for rocks.

Buck decided to get involved, asking the Oxford Rocks page if she could start her own page for Gadsden. She created the Gadsden Rocks Facebook group, which is only one of many in the Etowah County area. Other Facebook groups include Attalla Rocks, Southside Rocks, Gadsden AL Rocks, Etowah AL Rocks #AL31 and Kindness Rocks Etowah County.

Anyone can participate with the rocks, either by painting, hiding or searching for rocks.

“You don’t have to be an artist,’ said Buck. “You don’t have to be good. You just paint your rocks, whatever you want to express yourself, and hide them.”

Buck often paints inspiring messages on her rocks, remembering how the message of hope on a rock helped her during a difficult time. “Smile,” This 2 Shall Pass,” “Laugh,” “Love” and “Slow Down, Be Patient” are some of the messages she has painted on the rocks. Strawberries, pineapples, bees, flowers and monsters are just a few of the designs she has painted. Other rock artists paint cartoon characters, disease awareness messages, landscapes and much more.

  Buck hid her first batch on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden, after asking for permission from Downtown Gadsden Inc. Director Kay Moore.

“I feel like Broad Street is a quaint little place,” said Buck.

Buck has since returned to hide more rocks on the street. She also likes to hide the rocks in parks, like Noccalula Falls Park. She carries rocks with her to place in parking lots and at gas station pumps, where she likes to leave her “Slow Down, Be Patient” rocks.

Buck requests that people hiding rocks do not put them inside stores, as someone picking up the rocks could resemble a shoplifter to security. Trespassing to hide or look for rocks is, of course,  not allowed, as it is illegal.

If you find a rock, Buck says that you can take it, rehide it or leave it where it is. 

Buck only began hiding rocks two weeks ago and has already heard and witnessed inspiring stories about how the rocks have helped people. Buck saw a lady find her “Smile” rock in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and immediately smiled.

Buck also related a story she read about a single mother who was having a bad day and found a rock that said “This too shall pass” while at the park with her son.

Buck does not know how the kindness rocks began, but through research has found that the rocks are being hidden throughout the United States.

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