Around the Exchange Waco Distribution Center in Texas and at stops along the truckers’ routes, associates are finding rocks.
But these aren’t just any rocks. They are brightly painted with everything from holiday scenes to cat faces to inspirational sayings like “Spread your wings and fly” and then placed with love by Assistant Distribution Center Manager Yongie Raines.
She is one of millions of Americans getting in on the latest craze of spreading happy thoughts through hand-painted rocks. The idea is simple: Paint something inspiring or cheerful on a rock and leave it for someone else to find.
“I started hiding the rocks as a way to give morale boosters to people who may really need a lift,” Raines said. “Whenever I go on my routine walks around the warehouse, I’ll put rocks on the top of boxes, on shelves, in the backs of our trucks or in boxes of merchandise we’ll deliver to the stores.”
Inspiration from a sister
Raines’ foray into the trend started in July when her twin sister from Virginia inspired her to do something artsy. But Raines couldn’t figure out where to channel her creative talents. She began drawing, which led to painting. She found a YouTube video about painted rocks and stumbled upon the Rockin’ with Kindness channel.
Her inspiration for rock painting took off.
“Who would have thought that a simple rock would make that much of a difference?”
-Alana Nance, Waco Distribution Center
Raines began painting and passing out rocks in September after joining the Facebook groups, Rockin’ with Kindness and Waco Rocks. Since then, she’s placed more than 100 rocks in rather easy-to-find spots in the warehouse and “several hundred” rocks in the community at stores, in restaurants or along walking paths.
Some rocks take only a few minutes to design, while others with more intricate designs could take more than an hour, Raines said.
But the pleasure she derives more than offsets the work.
“There are just too many emotions to choose from when I see people finding my rocks and seeing their reactions—happiness, being thrilled, excited, thankful,” Raines said. “If the kind gesture of leaving a painted rock for someone to find with just a picture on it or with an inspirational quote and it makes their day, then my rock served its purpose.”
Rocks from Kansas to Mississippi
Associates from Keesler AFB, Miss., to Fort Riley and McConnell AFB in Kansas—all three nearly 600 miles away from the Waco DC—are finding Raines’ rocks. Keesler AFB Stocker Linda Hull found a rock inside a clothing distribution box.
“I can tell you it was something of an excitement to see,” said Mary Seal, visual merchandiser at Keesler AFB. “Just something that small from someone we didn't know sending out some Christmas spirit at that time of year was indeed appreciated.”
At McConnell AFB, the gloomy weather outside the Exchange had made the associates gloomy on the particular Wednesday as an truck from the Waco DC rolled up to the loading dock.
"As we were unloading, I happened to glance at a shiny object on top of a box," said Christine Schilling, an inventory control associate. "It was a rock! We were so excited to find this. We were pumped and somehow, we felt our spirits lifted. I could not believe how a little rock can have a positive impact. It brightened our gloomy day! Thank you Yongie Raines!
Hot dogs, snacks . . . and rocks
Figueroa, who manages the Waco DC’s Express, discovered one of Raines’ rocks near the hot-dog grill and another on the snack aisle.
“The rocks are very festive and exciting to find in hidden places,” Figueroa said. “I appreciate that she takes the time to brighten our day. Yongie has created excitement when she comes to the store because we’re on the lookout for the next rock. She makes us feel special with her awesome rocks.”
Waco DC forklift driver Alana Nance has discovered nearly a dozen of Raines’ rocks around the warehouse. She and her co-workers look forward to getting the rocks, which she said boosts morale.
“People walk around the warehouse with smiles on their faces and talk about the rocks,” Nance said. “When you do your job on a day to day basis, finding one of Yongie’s rocks really makes a difference.”
One of the rocks Nance found bore an inspirational message that said the person who finds the stone is capable of doing amazing things. The rock immediately added a bright spot to her workday, she added.
“Who would have thought,” Nance said, “that a simple rock would make that much of a difference?”
A Gallery of Yongie Raines' Rocks