New members encouraged to join the Legion

The Royal Canadian Legion has been around since 1926 and has changed its name, form, and size many times since then.

Today, the Legion is an important fixture in most communities including Red Deer.

There are many programs run by the Legion to aid the community and many involve getting youth in the community active and involved as well as keeping the memory alive of those lost in war.

Bev Hanes, membership chair at the Legion in Red Deer, said they have members, but that a lot don’t remain involved in the Legion itself.

“The 2011 Poppy Campaign saw fewer members committing their time for the annual campaign in Red Deer.”

In its early years, the Legion restricted membership to serving and retired military personnel and their families. Now, with a changing population, membership is offered to any Canadian citizen or Commonwealth subject over the age of 18.

“By joining the Royal Canadian Legion, you have the opportunity to make new friends, become involved with our community, enjoy sports leagues, attend regular dances, and develop or share leadership skills.”

Hanes said a large portion of the younger members that the Legion does see are those that are related to a senior member whether it is as their grandchild, great-grandchild, son or daughter.

“Since our younger members usually work more than our senior members we usually see them with their families at events,” said Hanes.

Many of the new applications that the Legion sees are from people who are older and may even be retired or working fewer hours and who may be looking for somewhere to spend their time and get to know others.

Hanes said for the younger members looking to join that just because there isn’t an activity that they are interested in, there is nothing stopping them from starting it up.

“It would be nice to see the younger group join and change our range of activities by taking on leadership roles.”

Part of joining the Legion, said Hanes, is sharing in a pride for our nation’s history and place in the world.

“Being part of a community service organization that has branches across Canada means you can travel and stop in many places in Canada and enjoy the camaraderie with fellow Legion members.”

A membership is not costly at a mere $40 per year for those under 65 years of age and $35 for those over 65. New applications cost slightly more but Hanes said it is to offset the costs associated in setting up membership.

“I feel the younger generation does have more options for entertainment but if they would like to talk with each other and learn and enjoy the sports played at the Legion they could take part with us.”

Hanes said when the current Legion building was built, membership was around 4,500 but that those numbers have dwindled significantly.

“It would be my wish for 2012 that more of these families, the younger generations, would rejoin the Legion and enhance our operations and place in the Red Deer community.”

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