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The death of a loved one may seem unbearable but thinking that loved one may not be remembered may be worse.
Shari Raymond of Williston is doing something to ensure her brother, Boo, who died in December is not forgotten and she’s encouraging others to follow her lead.
Levy County ROCKS, Raymond’s simple, yet poignant, project is rapidly covering Williston and before long, she hopes it encompasses all of Levy County.
You may have encountered it but didn’t know it. That’s about to change.
In 2013, stepsisters Abigail, 11, and Anna, 6, were killed in front of their Oregon home as they played, Raymond explained as she painted small, smooth river rocks Sunday afternoon.
Their mother wanted to memorialize the girls and carry out their message of love. When the family blended, the girls had painted rocks with hearts on them for the wedding. The mother knew this would be the way to remember the sisters – paint rocks with words of inspiration, messages of hope and colorful scenes.
But the mission went one step further – those painted rocks had to be distributed for others to see, find and enjoy.
Three years later, Love Rocks, are found on most continents, including Antarctica, Raymond said.
“I heard about it from my stepsisters,“ she said. “They are down in Lakeland and Stuart in Martin County. They’re touristy areas with active downtowns so people are leaving the rocks around town.”
Three weeks after her brother died, Raymond decided to do her own Love Rocks in his memory.
Two weeks later dozens of rocks are hidden in and around Williston waiting on someone to claim them.
“I’ve put several in Linear Park,” Raymond said. “I put one on a gas pump when I got gas. There are a couple on Main Street. They’re hidden in plain sight.”
Trish Seibolt has jumped on the Love Rocks wagon because not only is its message important, it’s a lot of fun.
“When people do find them,” Seibolt said, “they aren’t sure what they are or what to do with them.”
“If you find one,” Raymond elaborated, “you re-hide it somewhere else. Keep the message going. And if you want to keep it, then you paint one to replace it.”
Not an artist? That’s no excuse, she said.
The rocks can be purchased at home improvement or craft stores, the women said. The price varies but 30 pounds average $10-$12.
Inexpensive artists’ brushes and acrylic paints can be found at craft stores, dollar stores and Walmart – often on sale. And because you’re painting on a three-inch surface, a little paint goes a long way.
Still afraid to pick up the brush? Buy discounted fabric and a bottle of Modge Podge®, a glue, sealer and finish all in one product. Cut out shapes from the fabric and with a little Modge Podge®, your rock is finished. Except for the bottom.
That’s where a Sharpie® pen comes in, Raymond said.
Once the rock is dry, flip it over and write something inspiring (or not) and where the rock originated – like Williston. That way as it travels it may be traceable – because there are many social media sites where you can upload and share your finds.
“This is really a good way to push the community spirit,” Siebolt said with Raymond adding it’s an ideal project for civic groups, Scout troops or school classes.
It’s a project that knows no age limits – Raymond’s 4-year-old granddaughters are active participants – and there are no restrictions.
This time next month, Raymond hopes others have caught the Love Rock fever and are inspired by the smiles they bring to others’ faces.
“These,” she said, picking up colorful rocks, emblazoned with fish, lighthouses and sunsets, “are for Cedar Key.” One that’s painted bright pink with a pig’s face will find its way onto a barbecue property, she added.
“I found a rock that looked like a molar,” Siebolt said. Any guesses where that one will go?
To learn more about, Levy County ROCKS and participate within the group, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1355277131195672/.