#DunkirkRocks

Submitted Photos
Above, the Fredonia Girl Scout troop paint rocks for the Garrett Engle benefit on Oct. 7. Pictured below is an Officer Matthew Hazelton memorial rock made by a member of the #DunkirkRocks Facebook group for the Hazelton family.

Submitted Photos Above, the Fredonia Girl Scout troop paint rocks for the Garrett Engle benefit on Oct. 7. Pictured below is an Officer Matthew Hazelton memorial rock made by a member of the #DunkirkRocks Facebook group for the Hazelton family.

Some have known Dunkirk rocks for a long time, but the meaning of the phrase #DunkirkRocks has taken on a new meaning with the Kindness Rocks movement that has come to the city.

While Dunkirk is by no means the first community to create kindness rocks or a hashtag, over the summer, the popularity of the movement has sky“rock”eted.

OVER 1,000 MEMBERS

Tracy Jimenez, along with her husband Israel, brought the idea from Buffalo and in July started a Facebook group.

“Before starting the group I was painting 25-30 rocks a week and my husband and I would hide them around the city. I wasn’t too worried about knowing who got my rocks and found I was having fun just spreading a little kindness. I decided that I’d just post on my Facebook page about what I was doing to see what my friends and family said. Their response was so positive that I decided to start the group so others could join in on the fun,” she explained.

Jazy-Belle, 3, makes #DunkirkRocks.

Jazy-Belle, 3, makes #DunkirkRocks.

And so “Dunkirk Rocks (Kindness Rocks Project)” was created on July 17. In the two months that have followed, the group has grown to 1,100 members.

“The response was amazing! I was surprised that something so small could leave such a big impact on people,” Jimenez said.

WHY #DunkirkRocks

Group members got involved in different ways, but, when speaking about why they do it, the message was the same – because it’s fun!

Mindy Deland found her first rock during last month’s suicide awareness event. The inspirational message, “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets through,” had her hooked.

Ezra, 3, DaniRae, 3 and Dylan, 4, with their #DunkirkRocks finds.

Ezra, 3, DaniRae, 3 and Dylan, 4, with their #DunkirkRocks finds.

From there, she started looking for rocks with her 3-year-old granddaughter Jazy-Belle and the pair began painting and hiding their own.

See ROCKS, Page A6

“All these people are involved and they love it. It makes people’s day, just to find a rock!” she said, mentioning a bunny rock she found at the bank from Westfield. “It made me think, the smaller the rock, the bigger the inspiration. It’s very inspiring to find these rocks. I don’t know why, but it just makes your day. And when you’re hunting with the kids, they just love it, it’s so much fun.”

Nilka Marrero said Dunkirk Rocks has helped bring her family together.

“I have two teenagers, 16 and 14, and a 10 year old. It’s been difficult juggling between work and the children, being a single mother. The Kindness Rocks Project has given us that much-needed family time that we have not had in so many years. My children are excited to find rocks and they paint their own rocks. We walk to hide and find and also walk up to people and just hand them painted rocks to brighten their day. Some of the things written on the rocks are so special to all of us and passing them off to make someone else feel the same is the greatest feeling,” she said.

Submitted Photo
Cindy Martinez, left, and her nieces Anais Marrero and Imari Alverio placing #DunkirkRocks at the Whispering Giant statue.

Submitted Photo Cindy Martinez, left, and her nieces Anais Marrero and Imari Alverio placing #DunkirkRocks at the Whispering Giant statue.

Jimenez said it is that feeling that is the mission of the group.

“The goal of the group is spreading kindness one rock at a time. It is not necessarily about finding rocks, although that is big part of it. It is my hope that people find their own joy by giving back to the community and putting a smile on a stranger’s face,” she explained.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AN ARTIST TO ROCK

Hundreds of pictures have been posted of rocks – some with just a splash of color, a saying, and some with a little more flair.

Artist and administrator of his own subgroup “Kindness Rock’s Nomad Crew,” John Rose Jr. is known for his mandala print rocks.

“A friend found a rock, so I started looking while walking downtown, playing Pokemon Go. I found one, loved it, and wanted to do my own,” he said. “The thing I love about kindness rocks is everyone, age 3 to 93, can do it. Everyone has their own flavor and style. Something so simple can lift the human spirit and make someone’s day. That’s the main principle — to spread smiles and joy.”

Librarian of the Dunkirk Public Library, Jan De

koff, has seen the popularity of Dunkirk Rocks first-hand at two separate adult classes for painting mandala stones.

“I could teach that class twice a month and it would be full, that’s the kind of demand right now,” she said.

But in seeing pictures on Facebook and having inquiries for a family class, the library has decided to open up its next class to all.

“I did two classes at the library and the response was fantastic. It was definitely a class we were gearing toward adults because of the skill level needed and the interest in that community. While I was working on this, I found out about the Dunkirk Rocks Kindness Rocks Project and I let them know we were doing it. Some of the people involved came. Then we had questions about was it a family event, was it suitable for kids and that’s when we thought we should do a family event. I think that this project has been so interesting for the community because people are getting out there and being creative, putting their work out in the world to share and it make you feel good. They’re sharing on Facebook, they’re sharing with their friends, they’re putting them out there for people to find. I think it’s a really nice grassroots effort to do something nice in the community,” Deckoff said.

All ages are welcome to the library’s event on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., but it is encouraged that you bring your own rock, the library will provide the rest.

SPREADING KINDNESS DUNKIRK STYLE

The wonder of social media allows group members to see how far their kindness goes. Some post pictures with #WestfieldRocks, #BroctonRocks and #BuffaloRocks, but others post how far #DunkirkRocks have journeyed.

“We have some of our Dunkirk Rocks that have traveled to Canada, West Virginia, and most recently Florida. I think that is so cool for kids and community members to see how they can really make a big impact in a small way,” Jimenez said.

Building on that, group members have organized for some local causes including CASAC’s Recovery Walk on Tuesday, the Garrett Engle benefit on Oct. 7 and others.

“We have a great group of people who are always ready to help out when we have a project we’re working on such as the Officer Matthew Hazelton memorial rocks, which were given to his family, and the upcoming Sadie’s Safe Harbor Pubs for Pups Pub Crawl (Sept. 30) sponsor rocks to name a couple. We have participated in a handful of events around the city and the response has been extremely positive. I am really amazed at how quickly it has grown in just a little over two months,” Jimenez added.

The Dunkirk Rocks (Kindness Rocks Project) group is open to all by just searching the group on Facebook and joining.

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