Wear your poppy proudly

By Geoff Lee

November 10, 2016 12:00 AM

REMEMBER Poppy volunteer Bill Schaefer shows off one of the many donation boxes that the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39 distributed to businesses for poppy sales.

Poppies and Remembrance Day go hand in hand with sales of poppies funding programs and services for the veterans we remember on Nov. 11.
Poppy sales from the Lloydminster Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39 stay in the community to service local veterans or their spouses and related organizations.
“We probably donate to just about every nursing home, the Lloydminster Health Region Foundation, the Handivan and their new caravan that runs people back and forth to the city for hospital visits,” said Rick Mallet, the legion’s Sergeant-at-arms.
Last year, the legion donated $10,000 to the Lloydminster Handivan Society to purchase their shuttle vehicle.
“We buy a lot of scooters for people, wheelchairs and walkers,” said Mallett.
This year’s poppy campaign expects to raise about $40,000—including the sale of wreaths to local businesses—with the total to be determined.
“We won’t know until our poppy campaign is over,” said Mallett.
The campaign kicked off Oct. 29 with Air Cadet Squadron 186 raising more than $6,000 on the opening weekend, up from last year.
Despite the good start, Mallett said he thinks this year’s total could be down.
“I think the economy has got a lot to do with it,” he said, noting it’s got nothing to do with declining membership in the legion across Canada.
“This is money from the community which goes back to the community—if the community doesn’t have it to give, it’s hard to give back.”
Mallett also pointed to the fact some food service businesses don’t allow poppies to be sold, fearing pins could fall into food or harm a customer.
He said boxes offering paper stickers as a replacement, don’t get anywhere near the donations that poppies do.
There have not been any thefts of poppy donation boxes this year up to Nov. 9, but Mallet said, “We won’t know for sure until we pick them all up at the end of week.”
To prevent theft, volunteers pick up most of the 200 or so boxes distributed throughout the city, two or three times a week and replenish supplies.
Mallett said the legion has no idea how much most people donate and they don’t care if it’s a quarter or a toonie or more.
“If you can’t afford one, just take one—as long as you wear it proudly that’s all we worry about,” he said.
This year, the legion’s Dominion Convention approved three new organizations that poppy sales can help fund including a program called Power in Me for veterans with PTSD.
“They teach a very strong course to encourage people to cope with PTSD and intermingle with people,” said Mallett.
A second program, Leave the Streets Behind, ensures that every veteran who is homeless or near homeless finds the help they need.
The legion also supports Paws for Veterans, a service dog program.
Last year, branch 39 donated $25,000 for a dog and the training that goes with it.
While it’s been more 70 years since the Second World War, Mallett, says the meaning of a poppy hasn’t changed much with the passage of time and the many international conflicts that Canadian Armed Forces have been involved in including peace keeping roles.
“You wear a poppy in remembrance of your veterans for what they did for our country,” said Mallett who instructed wear a poppy should be worn.
“It should be worn over your heart.”

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