You may have seen them around the West Shore.
Volunteers standing outside groceries stores and local businesses, smiling to customers and passerbys, who receive donations in exchange for poppies – a symbol of sacrifices not to be forgotten – to be worn in the days leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
The roughly 120 to 150 volunteers are part of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91’s annual poppy campaign that kicked off the last week of October.
As part of the Friday ceremony, legion president Norm Scott presented the first poppy to Premier John Horgan at the Legion on Station Street. Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton received the second poppy.
From there, volunteers fanned out across the western municipalities, with poppies and donation jars in hand.
Residents can give a donation and receive a poppy or are welcome to take a poppy for free.
“It’s all by donation,” said Scott, noting this is the Legion’s largest campaign of the year.
Funds raised go towards supporting veterans and families in need by purchasing food vouchers and medical equipment. And that’s not all. All funds raised on the West Shore go back into the community. The Legion also uses the money to help community youth groups, such as cadets.
Last year, the Legion received roughly $87,000. While donations are a large part of the campaign, Scott said the most important thing is that children, youth, adults and seniors take the time to remember and honour those who fought to serve the country.
“It’s all the point of active remembrance. If we don’t remember what happened yesterday, we’re not going to be able to remember what’s going to happen for tomorrow and if we didn’t have yesterday, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Scott, adding he’s noticed fewer people wearing poppies this year compared to previous years.
“I’m worried the true meaning of remembrance is slipping away. It shouldn’t be slipping away.”
Volunteers will be receiving donations until Friday, Nov. 10.
Find more Remembrance Day features on the Gazette’s website.