The Royal Canadian Legion’s 2014 poppy campaign kicks off today (Oct. 31), with volunteers getting out into the community and gathering donations until Nov. 10 to support veterans in need.
But with the campaign a full six days shorter than last year’s, there’s some worry locally that the funds raised might fall short.
“Those six days last year raised $20,000,” says Norm Scott, chairman of the West Shore Poppy Fund. “That’s huge, and that leaves us open to the possibility that we’ll be $20,000 less this year.”
The campaign raised $75,000 in total last year, which goes to supporting veterans in need, youth and seniors’ services, the air and sea cadets, Alexander Mackie Lodge retirement lodge and many other community services, including supplying mobility aids.
“If a guy needs a wheelchair and can’t afford it, we can help out with that,” says Rob Lumb, a Langford Legion member who served in the air force.
“Every year is different. You never know what’s going to come down the pipe,” adds Scott, reflecting that “it’s harder and harder for (veterans) to survive in this day and age.”
With the shorter fundraising window, poppy fund organizers are desperately seeking more volunteers to make sure the donations don’t fall short this year. The schedules for the two-hour volunteering shifts are tacked up to a cork board in the Legion, with all too many days still empty of names.
“We’d like to see if we can get another 100 volunteers,” says Scott. “I’ve got people taking two or three shifts already. There’s just not enough people.”
The shifts are a mix of indoor and outdoor spots, and some have a chair or stool on location for volunteers to rest their feet. Scott also noted that if a volunteer is in the military, they don’t need to wear their uniform.
As well as helping those less fortunate, the yearly campaign means a lot to the members at the Legion who participate and volunteer.
“It gives me an opportunity to give back to my fellow veterans,” Lumb says. “And it’s in remembrance of my father.”
“It’s clear and simple,” adds Scott. “We’re here to help the veterans.”
For more information on donating or veterans’ assistance, call 250-478-9812.