All it took was a simple Facebook post.
That’s how 7-year-old Chase Torres found his first kindness rock.
“We had a tip that there was a rock in Conway [at 10 p.m.],” said Sara Torres, Chase Torres’ mother and an Horry County teacher. “We went out with our headlamps and we found it.”
The rocks, which are painted with uplifting images or quotes and then strategically dispersed throughout the community, originated as part of The Kindness Rocks Project.
The objectives of the activity are simple: Paint a rock and place it within the community for a stranger to come across. Any rocks that are found are meant to be relocated rather than kept in hopes of continuing the message.
Now, the national activity is sweeping the Grand Strand through Facebook groups such as Horry County Rocks and Myrtle Beach Rocks & Shells, where both residents and tourists have a place to post pictures of their rocks and give hints as to where they’re hidden.
“We decided to make one here because nobody had one yet, and then the more people smiled, the more motivation we got,” said Amber Forrester, founder of Horry County Rocks.
The group, which aims to spread kindness, is especially popular with kids who are on summer break.
“This has been a fabulous activity to get us all out of the house,” Sara Torres said. “It’s free, it’s easy, it’s fun.”
Painters can be as creative as they like and use supplies such as Sharpies, paint and melted crayons.
While children enjoy the activity, it’s also a way for adults to relieve stress.
“Anybody can do this, that’s what I keep saying,” said Peggy Thibodeau, an artist who participates in the activity. “I think it’s kind of funny that we think only children are going to do it. The truth is, it’s about everybody.”
Thibodeau has been painting rocks for years, but recently joined the Horry County Rocks group.
After discovering that rocks with scripture painted on them went viral on her Facebook page, Thibodeau realized spreading the message is more important than the artistry.
“I feel like if you make it too much of a work of art, it may not travel through too many hands,” Thibodeau said. “It’s an exercise in letting go just like life.”
For many parents, such as Meg Perrino, these lessons are important for her kids to learn.
“I think it’s important for him to do things that are creative,” Perrino said of her son, Pierson. “I think it’s a good lesson for the kids of doing something kind.”
Of course, half of the fun comes in finding a place to put the rocks, and the excitement in coming across a new one.
Rocks can be found anywhere in the community, but they are mainly placed where kids tend to go.
“They’re sometimes hard, they’re sometimes easy and sometimes you can find them in one place,” Chase Torres said. “When you find it, it makes your heart feel happy.”