A local Royal Canadian Legion District has made a number of donations to various causes.
Recently, the District A Royal Canadian Legion met and the Legions in the local District made a number of donations to various causes, which include the following:
• The District A Hospital Trust Fund $34,800.00
• District A Youth Education $10,500.00
• District A Care & Comfort Fund $1,500.00
• Parkwood Veterans $6,500.00
• Royal Commonwealth Ex-service League (RCEL) $13,050.00
• Ontario Command Bursary $22,000.00
• Ontario Command Charitable Foundation $22,100.00
• Ontario Command Poppy Trust Fund $2,000.00
• Operation Service Dogs $37,250.00
• Operation Leave the Streets Behind $105,000.00
Mark Rogers is the District A Commander. His job as Commander requires him to oversee 53 branches in the District and oversee all the branches through their zones. The District currently consists of seven zones from Windsor to Grand Bend to Dorchester to Port Burwell and then back down the Lake Erie shoreline.
When announcing his District had donated more than $250,000, Rogers said he was thrilled.
“It makes me extremely happy because we’re here to support our veterans, their families and our communities,” said Rogers. “When we can donate the donations from the public to where the public expects them to be donated to, it really makes our job worthwhile and more fulfilling when we know exactly how we’re helping students out, veterans out, and communities out.”
More than $257,000 in donations has been spread out to a wide range of programs. This totals $399,000, including our Fall 2021 Convention.
While Rogers is excited about the donations, he admitted the last two years haven’t been easy on everyone due to the effects of the pandemic.
“At the beginning, it was quite scary because there were so many unknowns,” said Rogers.
He said many branches took advantage of the programs governments were offering for financial aid or loans to get them through.
“A lot of them basically went 18 months without any revenue,” he said. “It was the only way to keep paying their insurance and hydro bills and things like that.”
However, while many branches were closed, Rogers said many branches took advantage of the situation to improve their buildings.
“Many did take the time to make improvements to their building. They were either already planning on renovations or making upgrades. Since the branches were closed, it was a perfect time.”
“The bulk of that would have been out of our poppy funds,” he said. “The money that the public donated to the branches, they, in turn, can donate to our programs. The biggest set of donations we had was to the homeless veteran’s program. It was just over $100,000 for that program.”
Rogers said the program, which is often referred to as the Joe Sweeny Fund, wants to ensure that every Veteran who is homeless or near homeless finds the help they need to leave the streets behind.
“We have apartment kits, and if we find a bedroom housing, then we can fit their apartment with the basic necessities of pots and pans and other kitchen items, even bedding and pillows. This program helps with the basic things people need to start their life all over again,” said Rogers.
The District A Commander noted that it’s not just the veterans benefiting. He noted a bursary program, which provides financial help for students in post-secondary education, a fly fishing program, a program for therapeutic riding with horses, and a charitable foundation that provides grants to everything from hospitals to fire departments, potentially for different pieces of equipment like defibrillators.
“Basically, if a hospital has needs or a nursing home is not for profit, and they have a need, they can apply to this fund and receive money towards the cost,” he said.
As the Legion’s doors are now open and welcoming to the public, Rogers reminds the public not to forget about them.
“When people see the Legion is hosting a dance or a special event, go in and check it out. You’d be surprised who you may know inside already,” he said. “The Legion is here, and we’re here for our communities, especially our veterans and their dependents.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News