This year marks the 95th year that the Poppy has stood as a symbol of Remembrance for all Canadians. It was adopted from Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s poem: “In Flanders Fields,” where he spoke of the poppies growing on the battlefields in Europe during the First World War. His poem became known around the world.
The Legion takes its responsibility to protect the legacy of the Poppy and the distribution of Poppy Funds very seriously. All funds collected during our Poppy Campaign are held in trust at every level of the Legion and the use of these trust funds is strictly controlled as outlined in the policy contained in the Poppy Manual.
Poppy Trust Funds assist Veterans who are in need of financial assistance and may be authorized for special use expenditures on a case by case basis. Such assistance could include the provision of housing accommodation or care facilities, medical training and research, drop-in centres and meals on wheels, accessibility modifications and other quality of life needs such as wheel chairs, prosthetics or for transition programs for Veterans related to their training, education and support needs.
The annual Poppy Campaign is organized and run by local Legion volunteers at over 1400 branches across Canada and abroad. Donations collected support Veterans and their families in need in those communities.
Perhaps the best measure of success for the Legion’s Poppy Campaign is the fact that this campaign has set new records for the past four consecutive years. Last year, Legionnaires everywhere distributed more than 21 million Poppies and supporting materials. From the 2014 campaign financial statements, $17 million was returned to support Veterans in communities across Canada.
These funds do make a difference: “The folks from The Royal Canadian Legion, Belleville were over today with a donation to Hastings Manor. We were presented with a cheque. I had my picture taken with the staff. I then cried…We really appreciate the kindness of R.C.L.,” says Thomas L. Van Dusen in a recent email to Dominion Command.
Or the comments from Chairperson of the Poppy Fund from Legion Branch #59 in Moose Jaw, Christine Simpson, who stated to the Discover Moose Jaw newsletter during the last campaign: “All of the money stays here. If there's a Veteran in need or the family of a deceased Veteran...if they're in financial need of something, a wheelchair (or) a walker then the Poppy Fund puts the money out. Things happen, like if your furnace goes out and (you) don't have the money to pay for it, we pay the furnace company to install that new furnace."
These stories are repeated time and again at Legion branches throughout Canada. For more than 90 years, the Legion has been helping Veterans and their families and our important work continues. But we cannot do this without the tremendous support and generosity of Canadians across the country.
All Canadians are invited to show their generosity again this year for our Veterans by supporting the Legion’s Poppy Campaign.
Lest we forget.