Annual poppy campaign underway

  • Nov. 5, 2014 5:32 p.m.

The annual Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign is underway once more.

Beginning on the last Friday of each October, the campaign begins with a blitz where 16 stations are set up around Red Deer, mostly in grocery stores with two booths located in both Bower Place Shopping Centre and Parkland Mall.

Poppy trays are available in over 200 Red Deer retail facilities as well.

“The poppy itself has a really interesting history. The poppies are part of the act of really remembering the veterans that served Canada. In some respects, it also recognizes other countries that were part of the allies – mostly it’s Canada that is involved with the poppy campaign,” said Neil St. Denys, co-chair of the Poppy Committee with the Red Deer Legion branch.

“As far as the poppy campaign goes, the poppy itself is an item that has been copyrighted by the Royal Canadian Legion – we are the only one that’s allowed to have the red poppy with the black centre.”

The poppies are an integral part of Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day celebrations and have become synonymous with the event. Wreaths are also sold as a part of the poppy campaign. They can be purchased through the Legion as well, and can either be used for private uses or citizens can ask to lay a wreath at the Remembrance Day service at the Red Deer Arena.

Locations where poppies can be found are as follows: Parkland Mall, Bower Place Shopping Centre, Co-op Plaza & Deer Park, Sobeys north and south, Save-On Foods east and south, Wal-Mart south, Home Depot, Costco, Independent Grocery Store, Superstore and Safeway Port-o-Call.

The Royal Canadian Legion has put forth a great amount of effort to get the campaign up and running, officials said. There are only four people on the poppy committee in Red Deer.

“The poppy campaign covers several different things you might say. We have to organize volunteers. We have 23 different routes around the City that we have to get volunteers for, so we have to find people for all of them. We have 16 tables set up in Red Deer, where members and non-members volunteer to sit and take donations in exchange for poppies,” he said.

“The other part of the poppy campaign is wreaths. We sell wreaths and they are sold both for private use, like businesses or relatives who purchase them for graves, etc. “Others purchase wreaths to go down to the Remembrance Day services to be laid at the arena. Part of our job is to organize all the wreaths with names, and write down who and how and when they will be laid. It’s quite an extensive little piece of business.”

Volunteers are always useful in the poppy campaign. They are a mix of Legion members and non-members who will be giving their time throughout the campaign. St. Denys said that people could contact him if they are able to stay at a station to collect donations and give out the poppies. He can be contacted through the Red Deer Legion branch.

Poppies have been a significant symbol for remembrance since 1921, according Wikipedia. Poppies began as an American Legion tradition to honour those who died in the First World War. Today, they are mainly worn in Canada and the UK, and have come to commemorate not only those who died but also the veterans who are still living.

Canadian tradition is to wear a poppy for the two weeks leading up to Nov. 11th, according to Wikipedia. The Royal Canadian Legion suggests that the poppy be worn on the left side of a person, as close to the heart as possible.