The annual Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign is just days away from kicking off and organizers of the Kelowna appeal are scrambling to find enough volunteers to man all its designated collection spots in the city.
Organizers say they have about 360 spots (of the 830 spots that volunteers man each year during the campaign) to fill. That translates into the need for about 100 more volunteers.
Campaign chairman John Cashin said Wednesday he’s concerned some spots may not be able to be manned this year if the legion cannot find more volunteers in time.
So the call is being put out for help. Anyone who can volunteer is asked to contact the legion’s poppy office at 250 762-2961 and ask for either Joy or Greg. The office is open daily between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The campaign kicks off Friday morning with a breakfast at the Royal Canadian Legion office at 1380 Bertram Street in Kelowna. At the breakfast, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran will be presented with the first poppy of the 2017 campaign. A $5 donation is requested for the breakfast.
On average, the Kelowna poppy drive takes in $1 per person, and is believed to be one of the most successful in Canada.
Last year, the campaign collected a record $178,000 here, with all the money going to help local veterans. The legion also contributes money to help other organizations in the city such as Kelowna General Hospital, the cancer clinic, hospice and youth organizations.
Joy Wallace, poppy officer manager, said while more volunteers are needed to handle poppy trays around town, planning for the commercial appeal is going well, with 43 more small businesses added this year and an increase in the drivers who service that portion of the campaign.
In addition to the poppies, the legion is also selling wreaths this year to be be laid on Remembrance Day ceremonies at cenotaphs around the community Nov. 11.
While the legion will handle the poppy appeal in most parts of Kelowna, the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans’ Association will handle the poppy campaign in Rutland.