LAKEHURST – Several towns in Ocean County are rocking out this summer – just not to music. If you see a rock around town painted with a pretty picture or words of inspiration, it’s meant to brighten your day.
The rocks are part of The Kindness Rocks Project, a now international movement created by one woman who, as a hobby, started painting and dropping rocks on the beach in Cape Cod. After she started getting messages from strangers about how happy finding the rocks made them, she encouraged them to join her. The rest is history.
Debby Pease is responsible for bringing The Kindness Rocks Project to Lakehurst. A few months ago, a friend added her to the Toms River Rocks Facebook page, where the movement has really kicked off. When she and her family were recently in Downtown Toms River for the Summer in the Street festival, they found out that a painted rock had been hidden nearby. She asked her nine-year-old daughter Molly if she wanted to look for it. Pease said that when Molly found it, her face lit up, and she immediately wanted to look for more rocks.
In just over a week, the Lakehurst Rocks Facebook page already has over 100 followers. Although still in its early stages, Pease and her daughter Molly painted 20 rocks last weekend alone and hid them around the lakes, ballfields, firehouses, local businesses, the post office and borough hall in town.
And she’s not alone. Heather Cramer from Lakehurst florist Colonial Bouquet and her sons Tommy, 11, and Hayden, 7, have been painting their share of rocks, too. Cramer said they put one on the steps of borough hall, which is now gone, and another, painted to look like video game controller, on the ledge of Mrs. Walkers Ice Parlor.
“It gives them something to do – it’s different,” she said, adding that her kids were really into the Pokémon GO craze last year, but it fizzled out since they don’t have their own phones yet. This is something where the kids can just go out in the neighborhood and have fun looking around. She said her son Hayden is the creative one in the family who loves painting and drawing, and is really spearheading the whole project.
It’s not just about the convenience of location, either. “I feel that Lakehurst has a lot of untapped potential,” said Pease, who is a 10-year resident of the town and very active in the community. “We have so much to offer people. So many people don’t know that we have a lake, ice cream parlor, fudge store, countless pizza parlors, really great restaurants,” she added.
Pease plans to have a table set up at Lakehurst’s National Night Out event on August 1 to talk about the Lakehurst Rocks project and get more people in the community involved. As a Girl Scout leader for Molly’s troop, she said rock decorating will definitely be an activity when the 4th graders go back to school in September.
Her dream is for Lakehurst Rocks to go social and to run into other families, even from neighboring towns, who are out “rock hunting.” Pease also hopes to catch up to some of what Toms River Rocks is doing, such as scavenger hunts and incentives like free guitar lessons to the first person who finds a particular hidden rock.
Until then, join the Lakehurst Rocks Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/1485600368168786 and keep your eyes peeled for colorful rocks.
For more information about The Kindness Rocks Project, visit thekindnessrocksproject.com.