Izzy Zigman’s stones bring joy to neighbors

10-year-old paints rocks, places one at every mailbox in Highland Acres
April 7, 2020

Ten-year-old Izzy Zigman is immune suppressive, so she is hyper aware of everything that is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Shields Elementary School fifth-grader lives with her parents in the Highland Acres community in Lewes. The development has a only a few families with younger children, and most other residents are older and retired. With almost everyone confined to their home in recent weeks, Izzy decided it was time to send some positive vibes to her neighbors.

“We were trying to think of ways we could brighten their day,” said Izzy’s mom Tracy. “She came up with these rocks.”

With the help of a five-minute craft video on YouTube, Izzy painted palm-sized rocks with upbeat images and messages. After the sun set March 28, she stealthily placed one at the base of all 52 mailboxes in her development. 

“People likely go to their mailbox every day,” Tracy said. “The majority of the rocks are still there. It’s fun for Izzy to see them as we walk around the neighborhood every night.”

The rocks were painted with a variety of images and messages, from smiley faces and rainbows to hearts and flowers. On some rocks, she simply wrote “Hi,” while on others, she wrote, “You are awesome.” She then painted over the rocks with clear nail polish to ensure the acrylic paint wouldn’t wash away during a storm. 

The response has been great, Tracy said. She said she’s been contacted by a few of her neighbors asking if Izzy was responsible for the rocks. With so few children in the community, it wasn’t hard to figure out who made them, she said.

One neighbor said they were so happy to see someone was thinking about them.

“It really made my heart happy,” Tracy said, thinking about the messages she’s received. “We really didn’t know how people would respond to it. It made our day.”

Izzy is already talking about another project, possibly for the upcoming Easter holiday.

Izzy has kidney disease, putting her at a higher risk for coronavirus than the average kid her age. Tracy said she’s been at home almost exclusively since the governor ordered everyone to shelter in place. She is able to play outside and go for walks and bike rides.

As an only child, not socializing with her friends has been tough for Izzy. Luckily, she’s been able to ride bicycles, appropriately distanced, around the community with children who live a few houses away.

Before painting rocks, Izzy had been making slime. More recently, though, she’s turned her attention to making hand sanitizer and soaps.

“Times have certainly changed,” Tracy said.

Izzy’s time may be more limited in the coming weeks, as the fifth-grader at Shields Elementary is finally back to school – virtually. Tracy said it will be good for her daughter to get back on a regular schedule, and see her friends and teachers. Tracy said the band teacher has already been in contact and the class will be doing remote band, giving Izzy an opportunity to show off her trombone skills again.

  • The Cape Gazette staff has been doing Saltwater Portraits weekly (mostly) for more than 20 years. Reporters, on a rotating basis, prepare written and photographic portraits of a wide variety of characters peopling Delaware's Cape Region. Saltwater Portraits typically appear in the Cape Gazette's Tuesday edition as the lead story in the Cape Life section.

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