CRANFORD, NJ – Cranford resident Kristen Mider has been making Cranford kinder, one rock at a time.

Mider, who moved to Cranford from Brooklyn three years ago, has been painting rocks with her children to hide around town for people to discover. She participated in “Kindness Rocks” in Brooklyn, and brought the tradition to Cranford to honor a friend who lost her son to suicide.

“Dylan was a wonderful young man,” Mider said. “He was smart and talented, but most of all kind.  His parents began something called The Kindness Challenge, a Facebook group. The idea was that they could keep Dylan's legacy of kindness alive by asking people to perform random acts of kindness.  Cranford Rocks seemed like a project that would do just that. And Cranford seemed like the kind of town that would embrace this project.”

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Mider and her family didn’t start the project until this Februrary. Her initial batch of rocks were buried under snow and weren’t found until the snow melted.

“We receive a lot of feedback,” Mider said. “Kids love finding them and posting their finds on the page.  But, I've had adults find them too, and they also expressed how it lifted their spirits.”

To date, Mider said at least 100 rocks have been hidden in Cranford. She knows at least 10 people who have hidden rocks, and has more than 350 members in her “Cranford Rocks” Facebook group. In addition, Mider’s realtor, Sharon Steele, promoted the project on her Facebook page, “365 Cranford Westfield NJ,” which inspired a lot of new rock creators, she said.

“If we discover a rock that looks special, my kids get excited and start thinking about how they want to paint it,” Mider said. ‘Sometimes the rocks don't inspire them but life does.  For instance, if they've seen a classmate at school feeling down or being left out, they like to think of messages to leave on rocks that might lift his/her spirits. Even if that particular rock never reaches that particular child, it may reach someone who is feeling the same way.”

Mider hopes that people who discover the rocks will pay it forward and create and hide a rock for someone else to find.

She said, “Given today's sometimes divisive political climate and the often fast-paced nature of our lives, how nice is it to take some time aside to simply be kind to one another, with no other expectation than that we'll pass that kindness along?”