LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, an annual celebration where people spread kindness around the world.
In Lee's Summit, one family is spreading kindness every day in honor of a young woman who was known for making people smile.
Alyssa Noelle Audette died in 2011 at the age of 20 from an accidental prescription drug overdose.
For years, her family searched for ways to honor her. Then, in 2017, her mom heard about something called "The Kindness Rocks Project."
It's a worldwide movement where people paint encouraging messages on rocks and leave them in random places for people to find.
Alyssa's family and friends started participating. They now keep a pile of the rocks in their front yard, free for anyone to take. They encourage people to take two: one to keep, and one to leave somewhere else for someone else to find when they need an uplifting message.
"I feel like doing the things we do [allow us to] continue to be able to speak [Alyssa's] name, tell her story, but also sends her spirit out in a more positive way every day," Karen Houck, Alyssa's mom, said. "By doing those kinds of things throughout the year, it just really changes the end of her story, like her story has not ended in that way."
Houck runs a website and social media pages called "Alyssa's Wishes," where she posts photos of the kindness rocks made in Alyssa's honor.
She said the rocks have been found in all 50 states and multiple countries, including Australia and Iceland. They all include the words "Alyssa's Wishes" so when people find them, they can look up the website or social media pages and share their discovery.
Houck said her favorite part is when people contact her after finding them and let her know what it meant to them.
"The stories are meaningful because I've lost a child. So I get a lot of people in that space that have found the right message at the right time, which often seems to happen," she said.
Alyssa's Wishes is hosting a free rock-painting event on Saturday, Feb. 19. It's from noon to 3 p.m. at Art School KC, 307A SW Market St., Lee's Summit, MO, 64063.
Anyone is welcome and all supplies will be provided.
Because Alyssa loved to read, her family also has a "Little Free Library" in their front yard. It has books for all ages.
The address to drop off or pick up a rock or a book is 2108 NE Concord St., Lee's Summit, MO, 64086.