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