The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign poppies. This year the fundraising effort was mixed for local legions which have suffered from financial strain due to COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign poppies. This year the fundraising effort was mixed for local legions which have suffered from financial strain due to COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Mixed year for Legions during annual poppy campaign

Some find success, some struggle amidst the pandemic

It was a mixed year for legions within the Comox Valley following their annual poppy campaign in November.

Expectations across the area were low given the COVID-19 pandemic and limited access to retail locations and volunteers, explained Kent Gulliford of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 160 in Comox.

“The campaign did start – and I’m going to use the cliché – in unprecedented times. It relies on volunteers and we had no expectations, but we were pleasantly surprised.”

Generally, the legion relies on in-person volunteers at various locations throughout the town of Comox, particularly at the Comox Centre Mall, but there was no opportunity for that, Gulliford noted. Additionally, their campaign aimed to minimize trips to merchants who had poppy boxes available for donations.

“Our big concern was that our demographic would be most challenged (in getting out), and we were hopeful that we were just able to cover costs. Everyone is struggling… but we had just such an incredible response from the community.”

RELATED: Royal Canadian Legion adjusts to pandemic with electronic poppy sale pilot

Gulliford said their branch is always happy when they can reach about $15,000 during a campaign; last year they reached $18,000. This year, however, they set their sights lower – he admitted $12,000 was their goal.

That was, until the legion started to get reports back of people coming to the branch office to drop off donations. He said it was noticeable the branch distributed fewer poppies, and therefore they believed fewer donations would come through.

Once members starting tabulating donations, they were very surprised by the total.

“We just couldn’t believe it. We received over $19,000 in community donations. We’re so grateful, and with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s so incredible,” described Gulliford. “We are over-the-moon grateful.”

Funds raised by the campaign are held in trust and are used to support veterans through grants for food, housing medical equipment; comforts for those in hospital; support of cadet units and much more.

At the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 in Courtenay, members faced similar challenges for fundraising.

Member Robert McDiarmid, who assisted with organizing the campaign, said they were understaffed due to an aging membership fearful of COVID-19.

“We were only able to cover about a third of our usual locations (grocery stores, liquor stores, big box and so on). The first week the weather was pleasant and we were able to cover a few shifts (at grocery stores and other retail outlets).”

McDiarmid said during the second week, as the weather turned, they were restricted to Costco and Walmart because they allowed members to be inside.

“In total, we had 50 volunteers contribute two or more hours each which included about 10 private citizens who came forward on their own to help out. We also had fewer in-store tribute boxes distributed.”

The total amount raised was not available by deadline.

In Cumberland at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 28, Ward Harrison noted the pandemic also took its toll on their poppy campaign.

Similar to the Courtenay branch, Harrison said the weather also played a role in the lower amount of donations this year. Additionally, they were unable to get the assistance of cadets to help fundraise, but he did add membership renewals for the branch are up overall.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
RDN Transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance at Saanich staff meeting

Sidney firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy rushed to emergency 3 times after ingesting drugs in Vancouver Island public spaces

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

A fire broke out near the Willow Point Bottle Depot early on Jan. 22. Photo courtesy Ashley Laycock
Two injured in early-morning fire in Campbell River

Sailboat fire also attended by Campbell River fire crews

A worker covers up racist graffiti along the West Shore Parkway. (Courtesy of Anna Young)
RCMP investigating racist graffiti spotted off West Shore Parkway

Hateful vandalism is rare, says Langford bylaw enforcement

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team and Victoria police executed a high-risk warrant arrest on Jan. 22. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police arrest man wanted on multiple warrants

Warrants include drug trafficking, theft and possession of firearms

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

Most Read