‘Rocked’ by small gesture: NCFL exchange student, affected by war in Ukraine, receives community support

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Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 8:24 AM EDT
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SUWANNEE, Fla. (WCJB) - With easter less than a month away, the search for brightly colored eggs is right around the corner. In Suwannee, a different similar type of search happens year-round, as painted rocks can be found scattered across town before each holiday.

They’re painted and placed by Emily Asbell, also know as the rock lady.

“Every time I paint it’s probably 100 or more so I’ve been painting for five years that’s a lot of rocks when I paint,” said Asbell.

As soon as Asbell posts to facebook ‘Suwannee has been rocked,” he search begins attracting kids and adults from across town and other parts of North Central Florida.

“Boy they take off to see who can get to the first and who can find the most,” Asbell added. “Anything that will lift someones spirits and make them feel good and that’s what the kids do they love them.”

Of the thousands of rocks to bring smiles to the faces of strangers, one recently brought tears. A special ‘Pray for Ukraine’ rock was gifted to Sona Gibartiova, a Slovakian exchange student attending Dixie County High School.

“You leave your county when everything is in peace and then suddenly there is war,” said Gibariova. “It’s very stressful for me.”

Her family lives two hours from the border of Ukraine in Prešov. She said being away from them during this time has been difficult, but she finds comfort in the support of her community.

“You feel like everything will be alright when you feel the love from the people. I miss my family, I’m worried about them, but at least I met such a nice community of people here.”

Something as small as a rock, carries a big weight.

“It makes me feel good. If I could lift someones spirit or just make them happy for a little while it’s worth the effort I put into it,” Asbell added.

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She plans to paint more of these rocks, in addition to Easter rocks, and scatter them across Suwannee in the coming weeks.

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