Le­gion goes dig­i­tal with its lat­est poppy cam­paign

Elmira branch also pro­mot­ing the ana­log ver­sion as it gears up for this year’s Re­mem­brance Day

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - VERON­ICA REINER

ALIGN­ING WITH THE MODERN dig­i­tal age, the sym­bol of re­mem­brance is now avail­able on­line from any lo­ca­tion for the first time. To com­ple­ment the tra­di­tional Poppy, the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion is of­fer­ing the “Dig­i­tal Poppy” at www. my­poppy.ca un­til Re­mem­brance Day.

“We were look­ing for a way to reach out to peo­ple that we hadn’t been able to reach,” said Danny Mar­tin, deputy di­rec­tor for the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion. “The Le­gion has 275,000 mem­bers and 1,400 branches, but that doesn’t cover all the com­mu­ni­ties and ur­ban cen­tres that we want the dis­tri­bu­tion of the poppy to go.

“Go­ing on­line for the mil­len­nial and be­low seemed to be the an­swer to catch­ing that younger group. It is an op­por­tu­nity to al­low peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate the Re­mem­brance as­pect, and I think this time to come.”

An­other fac­tor that con­trib­uted to the in­spi­ra­tion is the fact that fewer Cana­di­ans are car­ry­ing cash on them while out in pub­lic, opt­ing to use a debit or credit card.

It works sim­i­larly to the fa­mil­iar lapel poppy in the sense that the amount do­nated is en­tirely up to the poppy owner. They also have the op­tion to ded­i­cate it to the mem­ory of a spe­cific per­son. Once it is down­loaded, donors are sent a link that spins to show both sides of the poppy. Donors can then post it to so­cial me­dia with a per­sonal story at­tached.

Af­ter the poppy cam­paign ends, the link will ex­pire, but it will re­main on so­cial me­dia feeds. Mar­tin says this is in no way in­tended to re­place the tra­di­tional Pop­pies, but rather to act as an ex­ten­sion of it.

Do­na­tions made via My­Poppy will go to­wards the Le­gion branch near­est to the donor’s ad­dress. In this way, it sup­ports lo­cal vet­eran ini­tia­tives. Ex­am­ples of these ini­tia­tives in­clude pro­grams and ser­vices for vet­er­ans, bur­saries for chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren of vet­er­ans, med­i­cal train­ing and re­search to as­sist with the care of vet­er­ans.

“The poppy, to the re­gion, rep­re­sents re­mem­brance,

the hor­rors of war, what vet­er­ans had to go through, the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of vet­er­ans, and those that don’t know their his­tory are doomed to re­peat it, and war is not the an­swer,” said Mar­tin.

Don Cherry, Mar­garet At­wood, and Justin Bieber have all pur­chased their own dig­i­tal poppy to show their sup­port, the na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion notes.

The Elmira branch is more than happy to con­tinue their tra­di­tion of on­the-street poppy do­na­tion boxes, as well as Re­mem­brance Day ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We will have poppy boxes at most of the busi­nesses around Elmira, Mary­hill, St. Cle­ments, St. Jacobs, Flo­radale and that area,” said John Scheeringa, poppy cam­paign chair­per­son. “We’ve done the house­hold mail­ing. We’ve mailed out about 20,000 pop­pies out to the house­holds in Wool­wich – with that, we send out two pop­pies to ev­ery house­hold.”

The poppy boxes are set up at var­i­ous busi­nesses in the com­mu­ni­ties of Wool­wich and Welles­ley with the help of Scouts, Guides and Le­gion mem­bers. Some prime ex­am­ples in­clude the Wool­wich Me­mo­rial Cen­tre and the St. Jacobs Farm­ers’ Mar­ket.

“We try to hit the same lo­ca­tions and get to as many spots as pos­si­ble,” said Scheeringa. “We typ­i­cally try to go to high-traf­fic ar­eas, be­cause that’s where peo­ple tend to re­ally want to get into the pop­pies.”

“They have dif­fer­ent fly­ers that they hand out as well,” added Donna Ver­voort of the Elmira branch. “We give them a poppy. If they choose to give a do­na­tion, that’s won­der­ful.”

Money col­lected from the drive sup­ports both Le­gion projects and com­mu­nity groups. Last year, for in­stance, $4,000 apiece from the $19,170 raised went to Com­mu­nity Care Con­cepts, St. Mary’s Hos­pi­tal and Grand River Hos­pi­tal. A fur­ther $2,000 apiece went to the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Bur­sary and Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Char­i­ta­ble Fund.

Other ini­tia­tives in­clude a Re­mem­brance Day din­ner on Novem­ber 11 and vet­eran ban­ners that dec­o­rate the down­town with posters that hon­our the fallen sol­diers. There will also be a Re­mem­brance Day fly­over, bar­ring any weather sur­prises.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion will also host the tra­di­tional wreath­lay­ing cer­e­mony at the ceno­taph for Re­mem­brance Day, with the pub­lic in­vited to take part.

“If they want to ded­i­cate a wreath to a loved one that was in the war or the mil­i­tary; if their busi­ness would like to spon­sor a wreath, we have wreaths avail­able. They could pop into our le­gion, and there are forms avail­able in our club room. $55 for a small one and $75 for a large one,” said Scheeringa.

Any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing more or ded­i­cat­ing a wreath can visit the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Elmira Branch, or cre­ate their dig­i­tal poppy visit www. my­poppy.ca.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

John and Kathy Scheeringa with tra­di­tional lapel pop­pies, which are be­ing of­fered at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across the re­gion un­til Re­mem­brance Day on Nov. 11.

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