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Chloe Darden starts the small business “Stones for Crohn’s”


A splash of indigo paint. A hint of turquoise. A speck of yellow. Chloe Darden dips her paintbrush into the carefully mixed colors currently residing on her paint palette. She meticulously places a string of small dots onto the smooth surface of the stone. The detailed design is slowly coming to life, all while raising money for a lesser known organization. 

The stone painting process is the basis of Middletown High School senior Chloe Darden’s small business, called “Stones for Crohns.” Darden sells stones hand painted with mandala designs, donating all proceeds to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Darden’s business had a simple start. She was bored and found a smooth rock outside her house. After perusing TikTok for ideas, she ultimately decided to paint the stone. 

What was originally intended to be a fun hobby turned into a thriving small business when Darden gave the stone to her neighbor, who recommended she start selling them. 

After receiving praise from her neighbor for the colorful rock, Darden said, “that kind of inspired me to keep on doing it.” She continued to paint stones and pass them out to neighbors, friends, and family. “I ended up loving it. I love doing it now because it’s super relaxing for me,” said Darden. 

She decided to start selling her stones with the goal of donating all the money earned. She chose an organization with a significant meaning to her: The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. 

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation , geared towards finding a cure, is a non-profit fueled by volunteers similar to Darden herself. Money raised by the organization sponsors clinical research, educational programs, and coping support for those with the disease.

“A lot of people donate towards that and they do great things like double your donation,” said Darden, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of fourteen. 

She loved the idea of donating to an organization she could relate to on a personal level, believing this to be a “good opportunity to help those in need.” 

Darden has raised over $550 for the organization. She sells a variety of sizes, each a different price. Small stones cost $3.00, medium stones cost $5.00, and large stones cost $7.00. 

She also provides a wide range of colors and designs, including the option of a personalized, custom stone. All stones also include a meaningful word or name on the back chosen by the purchaser. 

Many Middletown High School students and faculty have contributed to her cause. 

“I didn’t know about her business until she brought me this beautiful gem, last year, when my father had died to commemorate him,” said Lisa Loughry, MHS English teacher. Loughry is among numerous MHS members who appreciate what Darden is doing.

MHS senior Kayce Gordon also contributed. Gordon bought one painted rock, and said she thinks “it’s really cute.” 

Darden primarily sells through word-of-mouth. She brings it up to various people she knows. “It’s not like I have a whole campaign or anything, but I just mentioned it to people who I think will be interested in it, and it’s something that I’m proud of,” said Darden.  

She also conducts her business through her Instagram page, Stones_For_Crohns. 

Painting stones does not only serve as an enjoyable way to raise money. Darden believes creating this business has had a positive impact on her life. It switched her focus from completing a task for her own benefit to completing a task for the benefit of others, as Darden said. 

“I think that any time you can use creativity seasoned with kindness to help others, that’s just a great thing. So I appreciate what Chloe’s doing,” said Loughry. 

MHS art teacher, Donna Lehman, also supports Darden’s creativity. She thinks the business is a unique way to “do something creative and artistic” while doing something beneficial to others. When you do good, you feel good,” said Lehman.   

Darden is “excited for what’s to come” with her business. Although she does not have a fundraising goal, she is looking forward to continuing her contributions to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.  

“I’ve learned a lot from donating and putting time and effort into something that isn’t for you and so I have really come a long way in this small business that I’ve created,” said Darden. She hopes in the future there might be a cure for Crohn’s disease, but for now is happy with her effort to make a small but meaningful difference.   

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About the Contributor
Natalie Fox
Natalie Fox, RT Magazine Producer
Natalie Fox is a senior at Middletown High School and is in her fourth semester of journalism. Natalie is a captain of the MHS varsity tennis team and president of the French Club. She is also a lifelong Girl Scout who loves volunteering and has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. In her free time, Natalie enjoys watching "The Great British Bake Off," painting animals, and learning to crochet. She plans on studying journalism in college, hoping to focus on broadcast production and directing.

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Chloe Darden starts the small business “Stones for Crohn’s”