Kindness rocks roll through central Nebraska

Kearney residents left positive messages on rocks while vacationing in Mexico. The Kindness Rocks Project aims to spread kindness through messages on painted rocks. Photo courtesy Rhonda Davis Johnson.

Kearney residents left positive messages on rocks while vacationing in Mexico. The Kindness Rocks Project aims to spread kindness through messages on painted rocks. Photo courtesy Rhonda Davis Johnson.

Spreading kindness is as simple as a rock and some paint. Across Dawson PPD’s service territory, communities are painting rocks and hiding them in plain sight—all with the hopes to brighten someone’s day and inspire them to pay it forward.

The idea stemmed from The Kindness Rocks Project founded by life coach Megan Murphy of Cape Cod, Mass., in the spring of 2015.
According to Murphy’s website, she lost her parents in her early 20s.

“My morning walks became my designated time for introspection and insight,” she wrote. “I often times found myself looking for signs and messages along the way, such as a heart shaped rock that reminded me of my dad or a piece of sea glass that represented my mom. When I stumbled upon them, I would see it as a sign that my question had been answered and I was on the right path. This truly made me feel at ease and happy.”

It was then that Murphy had an epiphany: Paint inspirational messages on beach rocks for others to stumble upon.

“Maybe my rock would be the message that they needed for encouragement,” Murphy wrote. “It turns out…I was right; thus, The Kindness Rocks Project was born!”

The project has exploded into a worldwide effort since its launch two years ago. Looking at The Kindness Rocks Project website, map markers show that rocks are hidden across the United States and in several countries, including Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, New Zealand and France.

The effort swept through Dawson PPD’s service territory in the summer of 2017. A simple search on the popular social media site, Facebook, shows the following communities with their own group page or special hashtag:

  • Brady – Kindness rocks Brady
  • Cozad – Once upon a rock – Cozad
  • Gothenburg – Gothenburg Rocks Joy
  • Kearney – Kearney Kindness Rocks
  • Maxwell – #maxwellrocks
  • North Platte – NORTH PLATTE ROCKS!
  • Sutherland – Sutherland Rocks!

It’s not unusual for The Kindness Rocks Project to travel beyond its original community. Through the power of social media, participants are able to keep track of the rocks and how far their positive messages spread. Charlotte Ann Youngblood of North Platte found this rock from Lubbock, Texas, while visiting Cody Park. She chose to retire, or keep, the rock. Photo courtesy Charlotte Ann Youngblood.

Participation is simple and inexpensive. Rocks may be purchased through local businesses or picked up along gravel roads. Typical painting supplies needed are acrylic paint, paintbrushes, paint markers, permanent ink pens (such as Sharpies) and a clear sealant. Participants should refer to their community’s Facebook group on the back of the rock to identify its original location.

Once the rocks are painted, participants take a photo of them and upload it to their community’s Facebook group stating where the rocks will be hidden. Participants are encouraged to leave rocks in public areas, such as a park, and respect private property. The National Forests and Parks have a strict Leave No Trace policy for visitors. If in doubt, participants are encouraged to ask first.

When someone finds the rock, they take a photo with it and upload the picture to the Facebook group page indicated on the back of the rock. Then, they have two choices: Hide the rock for someone else to find, or retire it. Those who keep the rock are asked to replace it with their own creation.

Gothenburg resident Mary Sanders Donahue painted a rock to look like a pig and hid it at a local park. A Colorado resident found the pig rock and took it home. In exchange, she left behind a rock painted like the Colorado state flag. Photo courtesy Mary Sanders Donahue.

Interestingly, these rocks do not always stay within the local community. Photos on the Facebook group pages show the rocks traveling to nearby towns, states and even overseas. “NORTH PLATTE ROCKS!” member Charlotte Ann Youngblood posted a photo of a rock from Lubbock, Texas, found at Cody Park. Mary Sanders Donahue posted in the “Gothenburg Rocks Joy” page that a Kindness Rocks Project participant in Colorado Springs, Colo., swapped a Colorado Springs Rock for her rock painted like a pig. The Colorado resident planned to hide the pig rock in their home state. In the “Kearney Kindness Rocks” page, a group of students left rocks in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

Anyone is welcome to start their own initiative within their community. Simply create a Facebook group page identifying your community and indicate that the group is part of The Kindness Rocks Project in the “About” section. Use the hashtag #TheKindnessRocksProject on posts and add the group as a map marker on the project’s website,


December 2017

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