Nothing But Love Notes for vets has transformed into a nationwide mission

Natalie Reilly, creator of a movement focused on spreading love through handwritten notes to veterans, presses on nationwide

A love note mission started by a former administrator at ASU is expanding beyond Arizona one thank-you note at a time.

Natalie Reilly, a former clinical experiences placement specialist at ASU, spent the last few months writing thank-you notes to military veterans. She leaves the notes on cars, hands them out in parking lots and places around town for people to find.

The project started back in February on Valentine's Day when Reilly’s mother was at the end of 19 rounds of chemotherapy, and they were looking to do something positive.

They drove around looking for veterans and ended up leaving 50 love notes that day. 

"By the time we came home, we had laughed, we cried, we had such a great time," Reilly said. "We forgot what we were worried about earlier that day."

Since then project has taken off, and today, the notes are spread throughout the country.

Every time Reilly goes out to run errands like grocery shopping, she keeps an eye out for veterans license plates. She even left her job at ASU to travel and focus on the Nothing But Love Notes mission.

To expand the cause, Reilly is planning a trip to Washington, D.C. 

“We’re trying to get it so it’s nationwide, and I’ve had people write me from Georgia and say ‘Oh, I’m going to start doing this,’ and in Oregon they’re doing it too,” she said. “It’s really starting to grow.”

Reilly and her mother write about 150 notes a week now and pass them out to veterans, firefighters, police officers or people who seem like they just need a smile. There is even a hashtag #nothingbutlovenotes on Twitter where people post the notes they receive from Reilly.

“These big, strong combat veterans from Vietnam break down in tears,” Reilly said. “It just made us very aware of how we need to remember them, and thank them for their service.”

Jeremiah Thompson, who served for one year in the Iraq War, said the simple act left him speechless, which doesn't happen often.

Thompson was out grocery shopping when he saw Reilly leaving a note on his car. Skeptical at first, he finally opened up the card and realized what it was.

Thompson instantly ran up to Reilly and took her in his arms.

“You’re having a bad day and it just strikes a cord with you, and kind of brings you down notch,” Thompson said.

The two friends remain in touch to this day.

“All it takes is to say thank-you to somebody for them to open up, and I think these veterans from all generations need to hear that,” Reilly said. “Especially the ones who aren’t serving now, they kind of get forgotten.”

Reilly plans to announce a signing here at ASU on her Nothing But Love Notes Facebook page. “I would love to get college students involved and make it a movement,” Reilly said.

Andrew Petrie, secretary of the Student Veterans Association at ASU Tempe, served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and thinks the project is a great idea. “It’s just that little something that gets your day going, or to end a terrible day,” Petrie said.

Reilly said the project allowed her to open up to new people, and talk to people she would have never met if she hadn't started the love notes.

“Now we’re not quitting,” Reilly said. “We can’t stop.” 


Reach the reporter at shawna.truong@asu.edu or follow @shawnatruong_ on Twitter.

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