High schoolers write 1,000 thank you notes to first responders in Las Vegas mass shooting

PHOENIX – Students from a Peoria high school penned 1,000 hand-written notes of appreciation for first responders in the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Chelsea Opat, a senior at Centennial High School, was sitting in a coffee shop one day when she saw Natalie Reilly.

“I was at a local Starbucks writing thank you notes,” Reilly said. “Low and behold, sitting next to me is Chelsea.”

A Peoria high school student writes a note of hope to first responders in the Las Vegas mass shooting. (Photo by Monica Sampson/Cronkite News)

Reilly told Opat about her “Nothing But Love Notes” campaign, asking people to pen appreciation notes to members of the military and other heroes after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We just got to talking and we asked her if she wanted to write a thank you note because we were thinking of traveling to Vegas and taking some of these letters for the first responders,” Reilly said.

Opat, an honors student, decided to ask classmates to write notes to law enforcement workers, firefighters and medical workers who leaped to help victims of the Las Vegas tragedy in early October.

Letters

Students at Centennial High School have written more than 1,000 letters to first responders in the Las Vegas mass shooting. (Photo By Monica Sampson/Cronkite News)

A gunman opened fire from a high-rise hotel at an outdoor concert, injuring more than 500 and killing 58 people, before turning a gun on himself.

Opat took 100 cards to her school the next day. Within 24 hours, students had written 500 letters.

“It’s amazing to know that it spread like that,” said Opat, looking over the letters her classmates had written. “There’s a lot of love in this world.”

By the time students were done, they had written 1,000 thank you notes.

“These notes are simple,” Opat said. “They take less than a minute, and they just mean so much.”

Chelsea Opat, a senior at Centennial High School, and Natalie Reilly hug after Opat delivered 1000 letters her fellow students wrote to first responders in the Las Vegas mass shooting. (Photo by Monica Sampson/Cronkite News)

Opat later shared an overflowing basket of students’ brightly written letters with Reilly. The two spent time looking through each letter, finding words of inspiration.

When they were done, the two shared a long hug and Reilly thanked Opat.

Opat plans to take the letters to Las Vegas in November, likely stopping along the way to share a note with a police officer, firefighter or a medical worker.

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