In an effort to spread some kindness among the community, St. Anthony's has started a kindness rock garden.
The garden was started by art teacher Cathy Hutchinson, who thought it would be a good way to spread some cheer during a difficult time for many.
Hutchinson came up with the idea after finding painted rocks in Columbus High School's kindness rock garden last fall. She said she grabbed a couple of rocks to show to her students who agreed it would be a good idea.
St. Anthony's wasn't able to get the garden up before winter hit; then, come springtime, COVID-19 was already impacting the community.
The school finally got the garden up and was able to use the rocks that had been painted earlier.
Since then, many of the rocks have been spread around the community.
"That was the hope," Hutchinson said. "The hope was when you do that, that it’s going to make somebody feel good. We kind of pay it forward from when Columbus High started it with theirs. We kind of did the same."
One of the students who has taken part is sixth-grader Brynn Homolka. She found out that one of her painted rocks had been passed on to a cancer patient.
"It felt really good that I made someone’s day," Homolka said. "It just made my day that I made their day."
Once schools were forced to close their doors, Homolka started painting more rocks in her free time.
Her mom, Keri Homolka, was excited to see students use their free time for a good cause.
"She loves art, so for her to do this and use her time that’s going to be beneficial to others and make their day ... it's kind of nice to see kids do that because they got lost in video games and stuff like that," she said. "This was something for them to get to do for the community."
One of her favorite rocks that was found was one with Peppa Pig painted on it.
Just knowing that this small gesture made a difference was the best part of the experience for her.
"My favorite part was knowing that people had got my rocks and that they are appreciative of them, that I made their day," she said.
Even now students are still sending in rocks that have been passed around.
Some of the heartwarming stories include rocks getting passed on to people struggling with illness or the passing of a loved one.
Hutchinson said she hopes her students learn that a small act of kindness can go a long way.
"I think it’s important that the kids know that it’s just these little things," she said. "It doesn’t cost much, it doesn’t take a lot of time, but it can make a difference in the life of someone else."
Peter Huguenin is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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