Be­yond the poppy: vi­tal con­tri­bu­tions of the Le­gion

Penticton Herald - - REMEMBRANCE DAY -

For more than 40 years, as Re­mem­brance Day ap­proaches, they have oc­cu­pied street cor­ners and gro­cery store en­try ways, stand­ing in quiet dig­nity as they of­fer pop­pies by do­na­tion.

Lo­cally and across the na­tion, mem­bers of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion have be­come a beloved part of the Re­mem­brance Day me­mo­rial ri­tu­als that al­low us to stay con­nected to the sac­ri­fices made by veter­ans in ex­change for our free­dom and in­de­pen­dence.

It may seem like af­ter Nov. 11, they re­cede back to the comforts of their re­tire­ment. But in fact, their hum­ble work con­tin­ues all year round.

Be­yond their an­nual poppy cam­paign, lo­cally, the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Branch 26 in Kelowna plays a vi­tal role in our com­mu­nity. They are pas­sion­ate ste­wards for the health and well-be­ing of some of our most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions on each end of the gen­er­a­tional spec­trum: the aged and chil­dren.

Ev­ery month, the Le­gion fea­tures a busy en­ter­tain­ment cal­en­dar for se­niors; ev­ery­thing from spe­cial lunches and the pop­u­lar Satur­day meat draw, to dances and par­ties that al­low folks to get out and “twist,” “jive” and “waltz” to their favourite mu­sic. For many in this stage of life, the Le­gion has be­come a so­cial hub — a place to con­nect with friends, share sto­ries and have fun.

“I felt lost un­til I found the Le­gion,” notes Le­gion vol­un­teer Ila Hick­lin, whose hus­band of 40 years passed away two years ago. “But then I started vol­un­teer­ing, and I met my friends and now we just have so many good times to­gether.”

On av­er­age, the poppy cam­paign in Kelowna raises $175,000 ev­ery year.

The so­cial events of­fer fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Le­gion to raise funds. For many years, they have con­sis­tently given to the KGH Foun­da­tion to ad­vance pa­tient care for the el­derly and chil­dren. No­tably, in 2008, they com­pleted a two year pledge of $50,000 for Hospice House.

How­ever, this fall, the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Branch 26 pre­sented the KGH Foun­da­tion with their largest gift in his­tory — $100,000 to go specif­i­cally to­ward JoeAnna’s House, a home away from home for the fam­i­lies of pa­tients who must travel to KGH for ad­vanced med­i­cal care. This in­cludes veter­ans and their fam­i­lies from across the In­te­rior of B.C. The vast ma­jor­ity of these pa­tients are frail, el­derly and crit­i­cally ill chil­dren.

“We were very moved when we heard about the need for JoeAnna’s House,” said Jim White, pres­i­dent of the RCL Branch 26. “This project rep­re­sents the val­ues that we hold very dear – that as a com­mu­nity, it is our duty to take care of one an­other in the dark­est times.”

“It is a great hon­our to re­ceive this gift,” says Chan­del Sch­midt, KGH Foun­da­tion’s direc­tor of an­nual pro­grams. “Their kind­ness, gen­eros­ity and earnest care for this com­mu­nity knows no bounds. This gift will have a huge im­pact for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Lest we for­get. In grat­i­tude to our veter­ans for ev­ery­thing they have given us in the past, and con­tinue to give to­day to sup­port a bet­ter fu­ture for all.

— Spe­cial to The Okana­gan Week­end

Spe­cial to The Okana­gan Week­end

Bob Ross ac­cepts a do­na­tion for a Re­mem­brance Day poppy in Kelowna.

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