Woman Writes Over 20K Love Notes For Nation's Heroes
She started the project with her mother. Now she wants others join her cause.
Valentine's Day only comes once a year, but for Arizona native, Natalie Reilly, every day is a good day to spread some love.
Reilly started "Nothing But Love Notes" four years ago with her mother, who was fighting cancer at the time.
The two were looking for something to do to keep their minds off of her mother's chemo treatments, so they started writing thank you notes to their heroes, including fire fighters, veterans and law enforcement officers.
"We had a bunch of thank-you notes, threw them on the kitchen table, and she always had an affinity to first responders," Reilly told AZFamily.com. "We got her in the car, drove around three hours and looked for them."
Reilly's mother passed shortly after they started their project, but Reilly has kept the tradition going and has given out over 20,000 handwritten notes in the last four years.
Reilly even met her current boyfriend, a retired police officer, after she gave him a love note about a year ago.
Others who have gotten love notes have said they have made all the difference.
"It seems like Natalie's notes find people on bad days or just long days, when you're tired and drained, and it kind of recharges you," said Sgt. Zachary Astrup, a member of the Buckeye (AZ) Police Department.
Reilly has since partnered with other organizations to share her notes and has invited others to join her in writing them. She recently gathered a stack of love notes from the Miramar Youth and Teen Center, where elementary-aged children wrote them for kids who are battling illnesses. Many also addressed letters to the children's doctors and caregivers.
Even though Reilly's mom is no longer with her, she says she thinks of her every time she hands out a love note.
As she writes on her website, "Mom's been gone for more than a year now, but our collective dream of spreading love to our best and bravest, those who have shown courage, love and compassion to our country and community in the most selfless and essential of ways, is growing stronger every day!"
Here's Reilly with her mom, who inspired her to start the project and keep it going. Nothing But Love Notes/Facebook
What a beautiful way to show compassion to our nation's heroes while keeping her mother's legacy alive. Way to go, Reilly!
Here's a slide show of more of the great images of the love notes -- and people giving and getting them!