Even with limited opportunities to take donations for poppies, the Kamloops Legion’s poppy and wreath campaign raised even more money than it did last year.
Kamloops Legion president Daniel Martin said he thinks the bump came due to the COVID-19 pandemic as people realized the need and donations poured in.
“People realized that lots of Legions needed funds this year and they know that veterans are needing this year because they can’t go anywhere. They’re stuck in their house,” he said.
With donations still coming in, exact figures aren’t expected for another couple of weeks, but Martin estimated the funds raised are about $10,000 more than last year, now in the high-$90,000 range.
“The Kamloops community has shown its overwhelming support for veterans through generosity and spirit,” Martin wrote in a letter thanking the community.
Overall, Martin estimated sales at the Kamloops Legion are down about 30 per cent so far this year, due in part to mandated closures, but also from limited attendance due to the pandemic.
“It is a safe environment, but most [veterans] stay home because of COVID,” he said. “And the case numbers keep climbing, so that doesn’t help, either.”
Legions across Canada have been struggling to survive through the pandemic, leading to the national headquarters, known as Dominion Command, seeking additional funding from the federal government.
As a result, the Royal Canadian Legion will receive $14 million in federal funding as part of an aid package designed to support veteran organizations. It’s not known, however, when those funds will arrive.
In the interim, veterans programs have continued uninterrupted, even when the Legion was closed.
“There’s always veterans in need,” Martin said.
Donations to the Kamloops Legion can be dropped off at 425 Lansdowne St. Donations can be earmarked to go directly to veterans programs or to support Legion operating expenses.