Annual Veterans’ poppy campaign kicks off

It’s time once again to honour our veterans, as the Legion’s annual poppy campaign kicks off in order to support and remember our troops.

Jenny Schumann, chair of the poppy board, said poppies have been sent out to businesses across Strathmore and Wheatland County and so far, the community has been generous with their support.

“The town of Strathmore has been very generous so far, which is great. We have volunteers sitting in the Calgary and Strathmore Co-Op, and the Walmart and No Frills. It is going really well,” she said. “The money is used to help our veterans and their families, depending on their needs. Right here, we have quite a rehab program with wheelchairs and walkers and scooters – you name it. We also help some veterans if they need help getting to Calgary for appointments on the handibus.”

She added services for veterans also extend to retrofitting homes with wheelchair ramps or other methods for easier accessibility, giving out bursaries to students of veterans, and veterans themselves if they choose to go back to school, among other sources for aid.

Traditionally speaking, poppies are worn after the Governor General receives hers, but the campaign begins on the last Friday of October until Remembrance Day.

Schumann added some will choose to wear their poppies year-round for their own personal reasons, which are not inquired upon.

Technically, it is not disrespectful to bear a poppy throughout the year, though the practise is irregular.

“The poppy campaign helps a lot, and we also send cash donations or cheque donations into the veterans food bank. Though it is based out of Calgary, it serves all the veterans in the area,” said Schumann. “We are still needing some volunteers to sit at the different places where they take the poppies at the three stores … if there are any volunteers who would like to come in and help us out, that would be great.”

Poppy tables will be out until Nov. 10, at which time, they will be collected from supporting businesses and taken to the Field of Honour to be placed upon veterans’ graves.

Volunteer shifts go from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at each posting. Schumann said if somebody for whatever reason is needed away from their shift, somebody will step in to cover the remaining time.

Though she said anything is accepted and goes a long way towards helping veterans, Schumann added the ultimate goal this year is to raise between $20,000 and $30,000.

Remembrance Day ceremonies in Strathmore will once again be hosted at the Legion branch, starting at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11. Weather permitting, ceremonies take place outdoors.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times