Poppy boxes have already started popping up on counters across the country but the final Friday in October marks the official start of the 2023 Poppy Campaign.
As the Royal Canadian Legion continues to adapt its major fundraiser to a changing world, a number of initiatives put in place over the past few years will be making a return.
Thousands of cashless poppy boxes will be distributed across the country allowing Canadians to tap to donate in $2, $5 or $10 increments.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ first peacekeeping mission, and the legion is marking the occasion by honouring the 123 Canadians who have been killed while serving as peacekeepers.
Visiting the Poppy Stories site and scanning a poppy will bring up short stories of one of those members who took part in peacekeeping missions.
Tammy Wheeler, the executive director of the Alberta-NWT Command, said these stories are key to maintaining our relationship with those who served.
“We don’t have that close connection with war being on our soil so seeing these individuals and knowing they’re a part of our families and that they lived in our communities, it connects us with them,” Wheeler said.
The Poppy Campaign tends to raise about $20 million a year with funds going toward supporting veterans and their families.
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This year’s poppy drive in Calgary is also presenting its own set of challenges.
On Oct. 19, fire crews were called out to the Alberta-NWT Command office along 20th Avenue Northeast for reports of a structure fire.
While most of the damage was limited to the exterior of the building, the smoke has forced Alberta’s legion leadership team to find different places to work, meaning that both the poppy drive and the legion’s everyday activities are impacted.
“We’re running out of wherever we can,” Wheeler said. “We’re hoping next week we’ll have a temporary spot that’s going to put a trailer on our site and we’ll have our service officers there.”
Wheeler adds that this time of year is one of their busiest and she reminds veterans that help is still available.
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