The Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Drive may draw special attention this year following the deaths of two Canadian soldiers last week.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613 will officially start offering poppies for donations on Friday.
However, they are already available at the Legion hall on Regional Road 20, also known as Veteran’s Way, said local campaign chair Bernie Law.
Last week, a hit-and-run driver ran down Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec and a gunman shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of Hamilton while he guarded the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Police and security guards killed both terrorist-style attackers.
The Fonthill Legion branch has received calls and visits from people expressing sorrow over the loss of the soldiers.
Law said he understands how people feel, but he said it shouldn’t take such dramatic events to attract Poppy donations.
“The community has been very good at supporting us over the years. We are very grateful.”
Law and his volunteers will distribute Poppy boxes to 150 locations in the Pelham area. They include 10 schools.
“We have received a lot of requests for Poppy stickers,” he said. The stickers are for children. They stay on better than pinned poppies.
The money raised from the Poppy drive, usually around $12,000, stays with the legion branch. It is used to help local veterans and their families as well as for Remembrance projects.
“We have veterans from the Second World War, Korean War and Peacekeeping,” said Law. “And we have a new generation of veterans from Afghanistan.”
The local poppy fund has helped pay for prosthetics for veterans, bursaries for children of veterans, Legion poster and essay contests, care for veterans, and army cadet projects.
The Poppy Drive continues to Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.
The Legion branch will organize four Remembrance services.
They will hold three on Sunday, Nov. 9, at cenotaphs in Fenwick’s Centennial Park (8:30 a.m.), at Old Pelham Town Hall in Ridgeville (9:45 a.m.) and at Town Hall in Fonthill (12:30 p.m.). Legion members and cadets will stop at Fonthill Baptist Church for a 10:30 a.m. Remembrance service led by chaplain Rev. Russ Meyers.
The Legion will hold its fourth service on Remembrance Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, starting at 10:30 a.m. It is at a cenotaph in Veterans Park in front of the hall. It can draw 300 to 500 people.
Law said everyone is welcome to the services and to lunch at the Legion hall after both the Sunday and Tuesday ceremonies presented by Branch 613 Ladies Auxiliary.