Red Deer Legion mobilizing troops for annual poppy campaign

100,000 poppies go out beginning Friday

Poppies will be popping up everywhere in the city on Friday when the Royal Canadian Legion in Red Deer launches its annual campaign to raise funds to help veterans and other groups with military ties.

A back room known as the “poppy room” at the Legion on Bremner Avenue was a hum of activity Wednesday with volunteers and others picking up poppies and wreaths for delivery prior to “the blitz,” as poppy chairman Doug Ramsey calls it.

He and other volunteers Neil St. Denys, Ken Bateman and Dwayne Neudeck were surrounded by dozens of poppy trays and wreaths ready to go out. Their mission is to distribute, with the help of others, about 100,000 poppies and dozens of wreaths.

About 20,000 poppies — worn to remember and honour of those who made the ultimate sacrifice — were readied to go to all local schools in Red Deer. Students can get further involved by participating in a Legion poster contest.

The Legion raises between $70,000 and $90,000 locally through the poppy campaign, and the funds are only used to help veterans, serving military and their families. The campaign is run entirely by volunteers.

The money is spent on things like medical equipment such as wheelchairs, housing or care facilities, bursaries for descendants of veterans, and sponsoring youth and cadet programs.

“On Friday morning we start the blitz,” said Rumsey. Poppies will be available in stores and other businesses throughout the city.

Korean veterans are now in their 80s, and Second World War vets in their 90s. Many are at a stage where they are in nursing homes and can’t get around much. The Legion doesn’t see Afghanistan veterans much, but maybe that will change when they get older, Rumsey said.

This year’s Nov. 11 Remembrance Day ceremony will be held at CrossRoads Church because a new arena is currently under construction at the site of the old Downtown Arena.

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