The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual poppy campaign is facing many challenge this year, causing some concern that they may raise significantly less money than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fundraiser usually brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars used to support initiatives in the community.
Legion officials say the shortage of money means some groups won’t get support.
Adair Losier has been helping with the Moncton Legion’s poppy campaign for nearly ten years.
“We just drop that box, and take the old box, and I bring all the money here. Then it’s counted by the people inside the Legion,” says Losier.
This year however, there’s not much counting to be done.
Legion officials say COVID-19 regulations are keeping volunteers from setting up in high traffic areas like malls and grocery stores.
The Moncton Legion has only placed poppy boxes in a handful of stores.
“It would be like, 5000, 6000, 7000 poppies in 13 days usually,” says Losier. “This year, I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll hit maybe 3000-4000.”
The number of volunteers helping with the crucial campaign is down as well.
“This year we have 11 volunteers that are dropping off and picking up the boxes,” says Al Johnston, past president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6 who adds that usually there would be up to 150 volunteers helping out.
As a result, donations are way down.
“Last year, following the first weekend we had taken in $23,000. This year we took in just $4,700 over the same time,” says Johnston.
The money raised by the legion goes toward things like bursaries, local cadet corps, the Veterans Health Care Center, and to support homeless veterans.
“I would fully except the number and amount of bursaries to decrease dramatically, and our donations to outside sources, like the veterans center, to drop,” says Johnston.
The Legion says the public can help by getting their poppy, crosses and wreaths while they are available.
Donations can also be dropped off at any branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.