The 2020 Poppy Campaign will take a page from the veterans it honours and soldier on during bleak times.
At a physically-distanced and limited attendance event at the Barrie Legion this morning, the annual Poppy Campaign was kicked off with pinning ceremonies and a few speeches from dignitaries.
Starting on the last Friday in October each year, millions of poppies are distributed across Canada in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
A concern for many is that with some businesses unable to have veterans outside distributing poppies, giving may be at a record low.
Barrie-Innisfil MP and Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs John Brassard told BarrieToday that these tough times call for people to respond the same way veterans have for Canadians.
“It is a dire situation and I’ve spoken to many of the commands, nationally and provincially, and I can tell you there is a concern,” said Brassard. “There are hundreds of Legions across this country that are close to being closed, if they haven't already. The Poppy Fund Campaign is an extremely important part of what the Legions does.”
Every year, all of the money collected during the poppy campaign goes toward veterans and related programs, as well as organizations that support veterans and cadet corps.
Brassard said today’s launch was not only different in appearance, but the actual campaign will also look different.
“As much as our veterans found a way to protect our rights and freedoms, we need to find a way to protect and support them now,” said Brassard. “There may not be veterans at your local businesses due to social distancing rules, but the poppy boxes will be out in force and there are even some new ways to get and give back, including electronically.”
Canadians can donate electronically here.
Silver Cross Mother Carol Collier was on-hand at today’s event; the ceremonial first poppy of the year was pinned to her.
Collier lost her son, Sapper Brian Collier, 10 years ago when he was killed by an IED in Afghanistan. She wants to remind everyone that while veterans of World War 2 and the Korean War may not be visible during the next few weeks as they fit into the COVID-19 vulnerable demographic, there are veterans who will still be visible.
“The students will not have the older veterans visiting this year but people also need to know that veterans can be young. The younger ones are the overlooked veterans but they still support us,” said Collier.
“Days like this and the next few weeks until Remembrance Day really keep Brian’s spirit alive for us. It is a reminder for us and it needs to be a reminder for everyone," she said.
Donations assist with local initiatives including:
- 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.
- Transition programs related to training and education for Veterans and their families.
- Veterans visits, transportation needs and day trips.
- Accessibility modifications to assist veterans with disabilities.
- Drop-in centres and services in communities where veterans would benefit.
- Medical appliances, medical training and medical research which will assist in the care of veterans in the community.
- Promotion and administering of Remembrance activities to ensure Canadians never forget the sacrifices of veterans.