By Stacy Case
Turmoil, disaster and terrorism have nothing on six-year-old Parkland resident Ayel Morgenstern. She has become an integral part of a community-wide initiative to spread cheer, warmth and compassion to those in need.
As a member of the 600+ Parkland (Kindness) Rocks Facebook group, in which members decorate hand-sized rocks with uplifting words or phrases, Ayel spends what little free time she has decorating such rocks and placing them around the city’s parks, businesses, other public areas and schools.
Her mom Lauren says, “She’s got so much kindness and love, and is just on this mission to spread it around.”
Back in the Spring, right around when the Parkland Rocks member group came about, Ayel learned about vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. In fact, she has a distant family member’s tombstone at a cemetery in St. Louis that had been tampered with, so she wanted to do something nice. Ayel took it upon herself to hand-paint numerous rocks that she sent to such cemeteries for them to then be placed on the headstones to honor those buried there. To piggy-back on that act of kindness, whenever Ayel learns of any sad events around the country, she continues to put forth some good vibes with her works of art.
“I talk to her about what goes on in the world and now she always wants to do her part to help out,” adds Lauren. “I want her to know what’s out there, and when she learns that someone or a family member of someone who died is hurting, she steps right in to do something nice for total strangers or people she’ll never even meet.”
And, Ayel has gone beyond her rock designs and has branched out to other philanthropic ventures. She has also spent some time decorating hats and bookmarks, and before classes at Park Trails started, she even prettied up a segment of the walkway leading up to the school’s campus with inspirational sayings and drawings to welcome students back for the first day.
“She has turned our house into a rock painting studio, with the hats and bookmarks now too,” Lauren adds. “She’s also a competitive dancer, so between that and school, she somehow finds the time to ‘give back’ to others.”
Ayel, along with many other youths in the local area, decorate the rocks and basically play ‘hide and seek’ with them. Alison Koss, one of the group’s Facebook page administrators, donates some of her time toward the cause as well. Once she heard about the concept, she and some others wanted to bring it on a more local scale for those willing to partake.
“It’s something that got kind of big so we wanted Parkland to have a chance to do it too,” says Alison, who also offers a ‘rock trading’ station at her business Art Paper Scissors in Parkland. “I think it’s a neat thing to do to bring the community together, especially since kids get so excited over it.”
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky is behind the concept all the way. She says, “The ‘Kindness Rocks’ project and ‘Parkland Rocks’ are such a fun and wonderful way for a community to come together and promote positive messages and inspiration.”