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Legion goes digital with its poppy campaign

[Faisial Ali\The Observer]

Aligning with the modern digital age, the symbol of remembrance is now available online for the first time. The complement the traditional version, the Royal Canadian Legion is offering the “Digital Poppy” online until Remembrance Day.

“Canadians aren’t carrying cash or coin on them, and it’s becoming less and less like that,” said Lucas DiRocco at the Royal Canadian Legion. “And everything has more of a presence online. So that’s the reasoning behind it; it makes it easier for everyone.”

It works similarly to the familiar lapel poppy in the sense that the amount donated is entirely up to the poppy owner. Once it is downloaded, donors have the option of posting the poppy on their social media feeds, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, along with a personal story attached.

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.

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 on-the-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 Bervoort 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 wreath-laying 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 online.

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