Every year, poppy funds around the country play vital roles in bringing in money for veterans.
Whether it’s for trauma counselling, guide dogs, or one of the many other valuable services, the money goes to good use. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s contributions could be more needed than ever.
“I think everybody is feeling the difference. Everybody is a little on edge,” said President of the Victoria Remembrance Day Committee Poppy Fund Angus Stanfield.
The Victoria fund brings in around $200,000 every year, but COVID-19 has brought on new challenges. Many retailers who previously allowed poppy stands are closed or are no longer allowing it due to health precautions.
Despite that, Stanfield is optimistic that with mail-in donations, and the good hearts of Canadians, there won’t be a big drop off in support.
“Canadians really do support Remembrance Day, and for that reason alone, I don’t see this as going to be a bad year at all. It’s just going to be different,” Stanfield said.
The biggest contributor to the Victoria fund is the Trafalgar/Pro Patria Branch 292 in Victoria, which like most Royal Canadian Legions, is struggling to keep their doors open. Branch president Patti Stockton had to make the tough decision to cancel their Remembrance Day event, their biggest of the year, due to the province’s 50 person limit for gatherings.
“We’ve got 20 World War Two vets.. and I wouldn’t in all consciousness be able to say you can’t come in,” said Stockton when discussing the gathering limit.
Kassie Martin has started a GoFundMe to help the branch survive the pandemic.
“I’m just hoping that people will donate a small amount and help us out and make sure that this space is left for the veteran community after the pandemic is over,” said Martin
It’s a gesture greatly appreciated by the legion branch.
“For a lot of our members, this is their social life and a place they feel safe. And by having her step up like that, it’ll help us carry on,” said Stockton.
The fundraiser will remain open through Remembrance Day.