Marilyn Glover was downtown one day and saw a woman sitting on a bench on Center Street all by herself.

"She just looked so lonely and was just sitting there alone," Glover said. "So I gave her a rock I had painted red and put a heart on. I had written on the rock 'love.' I told her it was designed to bring a smile to her face. I told her, 'When you look at it, know that somebody loves you.'"

The woman on the bench burst out in tears, thanking Glover and asking if the rock was hers to keep. It was.

And that's why Glover and her 10-year-old daughter, Dakota, paint rocks and hide them all over Wayne County for others to find.

It's part of the growing phenomenon of both children and adults painting rocks of all sizes and shapes with all kinds of designs and sayings on them to leave in their town or towns they may visit.

When someone finds a happy rock, he or she can put it back where it was found, keep it or hide it somewhere else for someone else to find.

"The sole intent is just to make you happy, even if it's just for that mine that you find the rock," Glover said.

"The rocks are supposed to bring happiness one rock at a time and a smile one rock at a time."

Glover first found out about happy rocks from a news report about a group in the eastern part of the state that was doing them.

"I thought they were cute, but why were people at that age -- adults -- painting tons and tons of rocks," she said.

"And I wondered what they were doing with them."

Then she discovered that one of her friends was into happy rocks, and she and Dakota jumped on board in the middle of July. She also started her own Facebook page, Happy Rocks Goldsboro NC.

"When someone finds a happy rock and posts it on the Facebook page, we can actually see what's happening with our rocks," Glover said.

"It's wonderful. People have left such comments as 'Made my day,' 'Thank you so much,' 'Appreciate it' and 'I needed this today.'"

Glover and her daughter sit around the table in their home painting happy rocks. Then they put them on a tray to dry then spray them with an acrylic sealer.

She buys her rocks from a business that sells them by the bucketful.

But you can also pick them up from just about anywhere, as long as it's not from a landscape, she said.

It's more than just painting rocks to make someone else happy, Glover said. It's quality time for her and her daughter.

"When painting rocks, we are talking and bonding," Glover said. "We stayed up until midnight one night painting happy rocks and talking."

They have painted rocks as a beach scene, Pokemon and SpongeBob Squarepants. They've also done abstract designs on the rocks.

"I'm into writing things on my rocks, like 'be inspired,' 'joy,' 'happiness' and 'you are blessed,'" Mrs. Glover said.

"One had a branch with 'be strong' written on it for a company that just opened. We went in and the owner hugged my neck and told me how much it meant. She said she was keeping it. I told her I put it there because I want to see the business grow strong."

Then there's the pickle rock that Glover and her daughter are going to put somewhere in Mount Olive because it's the pickle capital to her.

They are already painting holiday rocks with a green Christmas tree, red ornaments and a yellow star on top.

Dakota loves to paint green aliens, pigs and pizzas on her rocks.

And sometimes she'll write things on them, like "joy," "hope" and "love."

She said aliens, pigs and pizza make her feel happy, so she figures maybe they'll make somebody else feel happy, too.

The one she remembers most is the rock she helped a little girl at the park find.

On it was written "You are beautiful."

"That little girl had only one arm," Dakota said. "She really liked it and thanked me. It made me feel happy because she had been bullied in her life and that rock might make her feel happy and more confident about herself."

The pair have hidden their rocks all over Wayne County -- at the police department, fire department, parks and outside of businesses and banks -- even at the pig outside the News-Argus.

They recently found out through Facebook that one of Dakota's rocks, an Easter egg, traveled from Center Street to Nahunta to Rosewood to Rex Hospital.

"Last I heard, it was sitting outside an IHOP in Florence, S.C.," Glover said.

"It's so neat to see where these things travel. We have a rock from Santa Rosa, Fla., that I'm going to move right along."

She recently saw on Facebook where deployed military members want some happy rocks.

"They said they are so sick of seeing nothing but sand and plain rocks and asked people to paint some rocks to send over," Glover said.

"They want to have a rock garden over there. Dakota and I are going to paint some happy rocks and send them to our servicemen overseas."

Linda Turner and her 6-year-old daughter, Olivia, began painting happy rocks only a month ago.

"I paint butterflies and rainbows because it makes me feel happy," Olivia said. "I kept a rainbow rock that I made because it was beautiful with a heart in the middle."

Turner found out that her friend, Mrs. Glover, was painting rocks.

"At first, I thought painting rocks was kind of dumb," Turner said. "But it's really relaxing and fun."

Turner, her daughter, Olivia, 26-year-old son, D.J. Howery, and her boyfriend, Tim Sauls, all sit around a table on the back deck on the weekends and paint rocks.

"The guys like doing it, too," she said.

"We didn't even ask them to do it the first time. They saw what Olivia and I were doing and asked us why. Then they sat down, grabbed rocks and started painting them.

"That's what it's all about, family time and bringing something positive to the community. There are so many negative things going on. It's like an Easter egg hunt all year long."

"Kids and adults are all out looking for these rocks now," Glover said.

"Even when I find one, I'm just so excited. It's just a little bit of sunshine in somebody's life."

She remembers the young woman working at a gas station where she was placing a happy rock.

"She saw me, picked it up and asked what it was," Mrs. Glover said.

"I explained to her.

She said she had had the worst day of her life and asked if she could please have that rock.

"I hope when people find the rocks and keep them, they will continue to look at them and be inspired.

"You don't know what people are going through in their lives."