It’s an image of tribute and honour in Canada that’s spanned 96 years and counting; many pin it to the left side of their jackets, sweaters, and shirts, so the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice remains close to their hearts.
The Royal Canadian Legion adopted the poppy as the official symbol of remembrance in 1921 (along with Britain and Australia).
In Langley, volunteers are desperately needed to drop off poppy boxes to local businesses as Remembrance Day quickly approaches.
“Right now, we’re still trying to get boxes out to the stores that don’t have them,” said Wilma McEwen, a Langley Legion member who’s been the local poppy leader for 16 years.
“And also (volunteers are needed) with the boxes to sell poppies.”
She added, “We have about 700 boxes, here, and only 500 have gone out so far.”
You don’t have to be a Legion member or a veteran to volunteer with the poppy campaign.
“Any reliable person can do it,” McEwen said.
Langley could use another 20 volunteers to drop off boxes, according to McEwen.
Some Businesses ‘Honoured’
Nicole Vanderwall made a mental note to herself a year ago that she would volunteer this year to drop off boxes.
“Last year I heard on the radio that they were looking for people to help deliver poppy boxes and just between school and work I just didn’t have any time to offer,” Vanderwall said.
This year, she volunteered her time and energy to help out, and said the response from local businesses has been mostly positive.
“I just walked up and down Fraser Highway, went into all these businesses I’ve never been to before, and talked to a whole bunch of people,” Vanderwall said. “Some people were completely honoured to be asked.”
Those hesitant to accept poppy boxes either needed to ask their managers, or were afraid of theft and didn’t want to be responsible for the donations, Vanderwall said.
With Remembrance Day just a few days away, Vanderwall hopes others will volunteer to drop off boxes.
“If there’s a few people who just have a little time to offer… it’s not a difficult thing to do,” Vanderwall said.
The 27-year-old is juggling work with university but was determined to find time to support local veterans. Her interest in helping the military dates back years.
She went to high school with Pte. Garrett Chidley, a 21-year-old full-time solider from Langley who was killed on Dec. 30, 2010 after the light armored vehicle he was driving struck an improvised explosive device.
“We worked on a play together,” Vanderwall said, of Chidley.
“He was one of the drama kids who a lot of us looked up to. I didn’t even know he was in the military until he passed.”
As well, Vanderwall has had distant family members who have done military service.
Where Do the Donations Go?
Donations to the Legion Poppy Funds helps the Legion provide financial assistance and support to veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need.
“It all (the funds from donations) stays in the community to help our local veterans,” McEwen noted.
Just some of the initiatives that poppy funds may be used for include:
• Grants for food, heating costs, clothing, prescription medication, medical appliances and equipment, essential home repairs and emergency shelter or assistance for veterans and their families in need;
• Housing accommodation and care facilities for veterans;
• Comforts for veterans and their surviving spouses who are hospitalized and in need;
• Veterans visits, transportation, reading programs and day trips;
• Educational bursaries for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of veterans;
• Support of cadet units;
• Community drop-in centres, meals-on-wheels, and seniors services in communities where veterans would benefit; and
• Promotion and administering of Remembrance activities
For a full list of use of Poppy Trust Funds, visit www.legion.ca/remembrance/donate-to-the-poppy-fund/use-of-the-poppy-funds.
The Poppy Campaign is organized and run by volunteers at more than 1,400 branches across Canada and abroad.
Poppy Funds are are strictly controlled, with appropriate approval processes. Branch executives are accountable for Poppy Fund expenditures and are required to inform the public through local media of the results of their campaign, including contributions received and disposition of funds.
To volunteer, visit the Langley Legion location at 20604 Logan Ave., between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“Just come in and we’ll load you up and away you go,” McEwen said.