Happy trails: Sisters from Sussex rocking the country in kindness craze

FRANKFORD – They are not to be confused with Hollywood’s Thelma & Louise and their disastrous road trip consequences, but Teresa Shockley and Eleanor Ireland certainly rock.

Eleanor Ireland and Teresa Shockley of Frankford are a sister tag-team act that is “rocking” Sussex County, Delaware and other states with the new craze. They place painted rocks in hopes it will bring the finders joy and inspiration.

The sisters from the Roxana/Frankford area have taken up the latest craze: spreading kindness with painted rocks.

It all began July 8 at a birthday party.

“I honestly had never heard of it,” said Ms. Shockley. “I went to my little niece’s birthday party. I had a little girl come up to me with a rock. And she was telling me that she had found this painted rock, and that people hide rocks and you find them. ‘I’m like, ‘Well, I can paint a rock.’”

“So that following Monday she (Eleanor) and I were at the Dollar Tree buying rocks,” said Ms. Shockley.

They are not alone. A Sussex County Rocks page on Facebook had 369 members as of Aug. 1.

“Who started it? I have no idea,” said Ms. Ireland.

Ms. Shockley, back on her feet after a year-long comeback from a foot issue, is the artist. She uses acrylic paint with a varnish finish “so they will weather well.”

On the back or bottom of some stones Ms. Shockley paints, “Sussex County Rocks Delaware!” so they know they are from Delaware.

Ms. Ireland does most of the hiding. “Most of the time you do like the flower beds or a stone bed or flower pots,” said Ms. Ireland.

“She really loves to hide them. When I get some done, she keeps a box in her car. When we go places we just take the rocks and wherever we see a spot …,” said Ms. Shockley. “We take them everywhere.”

They’ve “rocked” Frankford, Roxana, Millsboro, Ocean View, Lewes, Smyrna and Newark, New Jersey and points in between.

“The one day we did Frankford,” said Ms. Ireland. “My grand-daughter helped put them in the Frankford Park. Then I put on Facebook, ‘Frankford has been rocked!’ Like for the fire house, I said, ‘It gets hot there.’”

“You give them little clues,” said Ms. Shockley, known by friends and colleagues for wearing a cape in her relentless crusade to help the less fortunate and those in need.

One rock found in Millsboro’s Cupola Park made social media. “So, this lady put on there, ‘My son found this last week in Cupola Park in Millsboro,’” said Ms. Shockley. “On Facebook, you’ll see people that have found rocks.”

“When we went to Newark, New Jersey a couple weeks ago to pick up my son from the airport we took rocks and hid them along the way,” said Ms. Shockley.

“We put one in the parking lot of the airport,” said Ms. Ireland. “I put some out at Roxana fire department. Two or three of them put on Facebook they found a rock.”

“It’s fun. It’s fun to make people happy,” said Ms. Shockley. “It’s so easy to paint a rock. Then the little kids find them and even adults find them. That’s why you’ll see the ones with messages like ‘Be kind’ or ‘I believe in you.’ I do ones with the inspirational messages on them, too. I mean you might be down and then find a message like, ‘You are loved’. You might be having a rotten day and then you find a rock.”

Ms. Shockley was a joyful finder on the last day of July.

A bench is “rocked” during a Welcome Center stop in Kentucky.

“I had never found rocks before,” she said. “But two of my little girls that I used to take care of in daycare when I worked at Cozy Critters painted those for me. I found them on my front step. I never found rocks before. I was excited.”

The sisters have taken their “Sussex County Rocks” show on the road to the Bluegrass State and Volunteer State.

“We’re doing the longest yard sale. It goes from Michigan to Alabama. But we’re going to start in Kentucky and go south. We want to try to hit to Chattanooga, Tennessee hitting yard sales,” said Ms. Ireland. “We’ve got a brother that is in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. And he says they do it (rocks) out there. When he told us they do the rocks out there it was like, ‘Huh’? We’re going to give them some of our rocks, they’ll give us some of theirs.”

“We’re taking all of the lady bugs with us. I painted lady bugs because it’s the state bug or something. We’re going to hide them, along the way. We are rocking everywhere we go,” said Ms. Shockley.

A stump is “rocked” in West Virginia.

Rock sources are dollar stores for small rocks, like those that become ladybugs, along with friends for larger varieties.

“The lady bugs, those stones you get from the Dollar Tree. You get a bag for like a buck,” said Ms. Shockley. “I do have a friend; he goes around and picks up rocks when he sees them. My craft room – I do a little bit of everything – the other day I was in there. I had a trash can in there but I had stuff on top of it. I went to pick it up. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh what is in this trash can?’ I had these rocks. I had river rocks and a book on painting rock projects. The book, it was 13 years old. So, I guess I’ve painted rocks before …”

But never spread kindness with them. Until now.

“The point is some people either collect them or a lot of people find them and then they re-hide them,” said Ms. Shockley. “Most little kids like to collect them. My little niece Kinsley loves to hide them.”

“Kinsley found a rock at Hocker’s and it said, ‘You are wonderful.’ On the back of it, it said it was a kindness project,” said Ms. Ireland.

There’s no immediate end in sight of their rocking.

“Just so long as we don’t chunk them at any windows we’ll be alright,” said Ms. Ireland.

“You know me; if I can make somebody happy I’ll paint a rock,” said Ms. Shockley. “It is easy. It’s quick. And it makes people happy. So why not?”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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