These Touching Stories Prove How Meaningful a Simple Thank-You Note Can Be

Updated: Feb. 14, 2023

Never underestimate the power of a thank-you note. As these readers show, the sentiment can last a lifetime.

FEA_Thank-You-Notes_US180404Yevhenia Haidamaka for Reader's Digest

As I mindlessly open my daughter’s lunch box to empty it, a small scrap of paper floats to the floor. Still with my mind elsewhere, I bend over to pick it up. The word Mom catches my attention. Mom, thanks for making me a yummy lunch. Though in ten years of packing lunches I’ve never left a note in my kids’ lunch boxes, my eight-year-old deliberately planned this one, held on to the thought during recess, wrote it as soon as she got back to class, and remembered to put it in her lunch box. If I’ve ever complained about making lunches before, I never will again. I’m grateful that I get to make lunches­—and for a lesson on appreciating the tiniest of things.—Nina Palmer, Ladera Ranch, California 

About 15 years ago, we purchased a dining set from an older couple after seeing their ad. When we went to pick it up, it was apparent to me that the lady was having a hard time seeing it go, although it hadn’t been used for many years. On Thanksgiving, I set the table, took a picture, and sent it to her, saying we were thankful to be enjoying the beautiful set. She sent a note back that read, It looks like it was meant to be. It really has helped me, seeing it happy. Thank you from my heart.Diane Ensch, Mansfield, Texas

As a volunteer, I recorded several audiobooks for the blind. I received a braille card that said thanks for my work. Fortunately, the sender also enclosed a reading chart for the braille words. It took me 90 minutes to figure out what the card said. It reminded me of how blessed I am and how much I can keep giving.—Yen Chou, Taipei, Taiwan

My coworker sent me this heartwarming e-mail after I was laid off: Thank you for giving me a chance way back when. This position got me off state assistance, paid for my car, and has blessed me and my son in so many ways. You have been an amazing mentor and friend, Mike. The best! I’ve learned so much and not just about pest control. To speak up for myself. To be less emotional when things go wrong. To have patience with myself and others. Thank you for being so incredibly patient with me and my thousands of questions and mistakes! It has helped my confidence in so many ways. Thank you! Thank you! It was humbling for me to know that I had that kind of impact on someone’s life by just being myself, doing my job.—Michael Shearing, Port Angeles, Washington

FEA_Thank-You-Notes_US180404Yevhenia Haidamaka for Reader's Digest

After I had worked as a mail carrier for 30 years, it was time to retire. I put a note in each of my 436 customers’ mailboxes, thanking them for allowing me to serve them over the years. I never expected that on my last day so many would hang balloons on the boxes and put out so many beautiful thank-yous. I hope I delivered all the mail properly that day, as there were tears of gratitude filling my eyes.—Kay Scott, Bucyrus, Ohio

(This is the secret to writing a truly heartfelt thank-you note.)

I was gram’s favorite, and she was mine. She passed away in September 2016, at 100½—she always said you earned the “half” when you got to be her age. To my surprise, I received a card in the mail that my sweet grandma had tucked away for my aunt to send after she passed. It read, Melis, thank you for all the nice things you did for me. Remember, this is the year you’ll meet your man. Be cool and play it safe. Don’t screw it up. Be careful. I’ll be watching you. All my love, Gram.Melissa Wegman, Cincinnati, Ohio

I was a busy mom running errands, and while stopped at a red light, I was rear-ended. The driver and his wife were so worried about their insurance covering the repairs that they made me promise to let them know when my car was fixed. I dropped them a note to thank them for their concern and let them know that all was well. I received the sweetest note back, reading, You run into the nicest people.Norma Adams, Clarinda, Iowa

Ever since I was very young, my parents instilled in me the value of writing thank-you notes. I would roll my eyes and begrudgingly compose them after birthdays and Christmas. Only after my grandmother passed away did I realize their impact. My mom and I had the task of cleaning my grandmother’s house. I opened a drawer in her nightstand, and there was a beautiful wooden box. I opened it and was shocked to see every card I had ever written her. The impact of that moment stayed with me, and when I had children, they learned the value of writing thank-you notes and still do so, even as grown adults.—Terri Jo Ortega, Santa Barbara, California

(Check out these 16 powerful quotes that’ll remind you to be grateful every day.)

FEA_Thank-You-Notes_US180404Yevhenia Haidamaka for Reader's Digest

When I gave a baby gift to a friend who is about my daughter’s age, I received a note that read, You are one of a small handful of women I think of when I think of motherhood. I was always so envious of your children. You loved folding your children’s clothes and were always quick to whip up a chocolate chip cookie or other delicious snack, and your face would light up in a specific way when you spoke of your children. Thank you for always welcoming me into your home and for your warm hugs. You have made a large impact on me and my hopes of my relationship with my daughter. I have three children who know I love them. But when someone outside of your family recognizes that love, it makes it tangible and extra meaningful.—Denise Lapp, Valencia, California

I got a letter from a former student. I had retired from Margate Ele­mentary School and moved, but somehow he found my address. He thanked me for requiring him to read on Christmas, Sundays, and even his birthday because his ability to read manuals allowed him to be a Marine helicopter repairman. He is now a corporal and told me he was deployed. I volunteer with Operation Shoebox, and we sent goody bags for his unit. I got a big thank-you letter and a picture of the Marines in front of their helicopter. He told me that some of the Marines had tears in their eyes because they never even get a letter from home.—Alva Alexander, The Villages, Florida

My sister-in-law sent me a thank-you note after I took care of her dogs while she and my brother-in-law were away. She wrote the letter as if it were from the dogs themselves, to thank me for taking care of them, and even included their paw prints.—Jodi Lueschow, Cresco, Iowa

I received a message over Facebook from a woman who said I had written her a note when she was in sixth grade, telling her to smile, that she was beautiful, and things would get better. She told me she had been contemplating suicide that day and I had saved her life. Today she has a beautiful family and two children. Be kind to one another.—K. K., via

(These are 8 times that you should always send a handwritten thank-you note.)

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest