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Legion launches new remembrance program

To commemorate the 100 anniversary of the poppy, the Royal Canadian Legion will be launching new ways for Canadians to support the cause and donate this year.

Their national poppy campaign is set to launch October 29 and will include new features such as the ‘immortal poppy’ or digital poppy as well as new Legion signs that can be placed on front lawns to show support for Canada’s veterans during Remembrance Day.

More than 7,000 signs have been sold across Canada so far. The recyclable lawn signs can be purchased online or picked up from the Elmira Legion. The Elmira branch is open 3-7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays for anyone looking to pick up a Remembrance Day sign. The signs bear the message ‘We will remember them.’

Sandy Pember, chair of the poppy campaign for the Elmira Legion branch, said she is excited about the new features being added this year, hoping it expands the campaign’s donations and shows more support for veterans. Last year, the Elmira Legion raised close to $35,000.

“It’s important to support the campaign because… it’s all going to be designated to helping support veterans or their causes; that includes those that might be in hospital, like Parkwood Hospital in London, Leave the Streets behind, service dogs and those kinds of things. First and foremost, it is for the veterans.”

Pember noted that local hospitals often receive donations from the campaign every year, but it changes based on where the need is.

“These are new ways people can show support for veterans, locally or around Canada. Things are different this year because of the pandemic, but the yard signs and the digital poppy are ways people can take part in Remembrance Day while staying safe. They can still go out and get their poppy, boxes will be available around Elmira. All the funds raised every year from the poppy campaign are used to help our veterans,” Pember explained.

Some $20 million is donated every year during the National Poppy Campaign.

“We are pleased to expand our poppy campaign this year and happy to once again work alongside some great partners to make it all happen,” said Dominion president Bruce Julian in a release. “Because of these collective efforts, Canadians will be able to donate in new and engaging ways to support our veterans, even in the midst of the pandemic. Technological advancements offer new opportunities, and we’re excited to provide multiple options to make it easy for people to support the campaign.

Along with supporting veterans, Remembrance Day activities serve to make Canadians pause to recall past sacrifices.

“I think it’s important this year to remember the past, to remember hard times that came before and how we as Canadians came through it,” said Pember.

Traditional poppy boxes will be available at numerous locations across Waterloo Region. As part of a pilot project launched last year, the Legion’s tap-and-pay boxes will be available again. The digital boxes will offer new donation amounts alongside the customary red and black flower pins.

The country’s Remembrance Day ceremony this year will be held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, spectators are discouraged from attending due to the ongoing pandemic but can view it via an online presentation on November 11.

The Elmira branch will be holding a ceremony this year at the cenotaph on Remembrance Day starting at 11 a.m. It will give the opportunity for people and businesses to purchase wreaths that will be pre-laid before the event starts to limit the spread of COVID. The organization is asking residents to remain six feet apart during the ceremony. Pember noted there will not be a parade this year, but they will still have other traditional elements to their ceremony.

New for 2021 is the digital poppy, which was created as a way for Canadians to donate and show online support for the yearly campaign. Through their website www.mypoppy.ca, Canadians can make a contribution to receive a digital poppy to share on social media. Funds raised go directly to the Legion National Foundation. This foundation, in partnership with the Royal Canadian Legion work throughout the country to support programs that help veterans.

“The digital poppy is an interesting way for residents to support the Legion and what we do. It’s a very safe way for people to still take part in Remembrance Day,” said Pember.

Another new digital feature this year is the ceremony locator available on the legion.ca website. Canadians will be able to find a Legion-supported Remembrance Day ceremony closest to them.

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