Joy can be contagious, and sometimes the smallest gesture can brighten someone’s day. When patients and their families walk into Claude Parrish Cancer Center, they may notice something small, bright and cheerful.
A basket full of painted rocks awaits everyone that enters the cancer center. A sign above the basket reads, “Kindness Rocks: Because one kind or inspiring message at the right moment can change someone’s day, outlook or even life. Leave rocks here.”
Painted rock projects have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Groups across the United States have painted rocks with encouraging messages and left them behind for others to find. For organizers, this small act of kindness will hopefully make a big impact on those that come in contact with the rocks.
Local elementary student, 9-year-old Ruby Kate Chitsey, began the Harrison Kindness Rocks project in June 2017. Her goal was simply to make people smile. Ruby Kate noticed other painted rock projects while traveling with her family.
“I saw painted rocks when we were in other places,” she said. “The rocks made me happy.”
She started by painting her cat, Bubba, on several rocks because she thought her cat would make others smile. Ruby’s brothers also got involved.
Recently a rock that Ruby’s 5-year-old brother, Max, painted was picked up by a patient in the Claude Parrish Cancer center. The Chitseys had no idea until Max received a letter in the mail including the rock.
“Dear Max, I got this rock while I was receiving radiation for my cancer,” the letter read. “I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to paint it. It really encouraged me while going through a difficult time.”
The letter went on to say that the patient was finished with treatment and doing much better, so the patient thought Max might want the rock back.
For Ruby Kate and Max, painting rocks and sharing them with Harrison and surrounding communities is like “spreading sunshine.”