July 16th, 2024

Tag Day kicks off Legion poppy campaign

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on November 1, 2023.

Herald photo by Justin Seward Sofia Tabish of the TNT 4-H Multi Club carries out her poppy box for Tag Day from Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch No. 4 on Saturday.

The Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch No. 4 hosted its Tag Day on Saturday.

The Legion encourages community youth to participate in its Poppy Campaign through Tag Day.

Local organizations such as 4-H clubs, Scouts, Beavers and Cadet groups all came and picked up poppy boxes and spread them throughout the city during the Saturday event.

“The way we see it is the first time that poppies hit the street here in Lethbridge and it commemorates the start of the Poppy Campaign, which is the last Friday of October,” said Daniel Gosselin, Tag Day coordinator.

“The Governor General received her poppy I think it was mid-October, but our poppy campaign officially starts the last Friday of October (and) goes right until the 11th of November. So what I think is really important for us is getting the kids out there and it’s not about the donations. Although we accept donations, it’s really about getting people to wear poppies and it’s really about the kids getting engaged in an act of remembrance outside of their schools as a community.”

Donations go back to local veterans in need.

“We emphasize local,” said Gosselin.

“Everything that comes into our boxes here goes into the fund that’s managed locally by the poppy committee. We’re actually active for the whole year and we disperse funds as the needs are identified.”

Those needs could include medical equipment, care homes, individual care homes, a funding need for a walker, medicine, transportation, food and short- term accommodation.

Gosselin said it’s well received by the community.

“Volunteers encompass more than just kids going out because there’s parents that have to drive and supervise the children out there,” said Gosselin.

“So it’s just not a matter of getting youth a box and sending them off. I count them in our volunteer team. It’s the parents, it’s the youth coordinators who know various organizations or command structure for the cadets and then I have my own Legion volunteers here, which are for the most part members of the poppy committee. But also, we get volunteers from our Legion membership to augment us as we need it.”

“It just means supporting the veterans, getting some money to help support veterans I guess and give out some poppies,” said Frankie Bohan of 15th Lethbridge Scouts.

Bohan says remembering the veterans who fought in the First World War means much to him.

“The veterans gave us our freedoms,” said Annette Bermack, area volunteer support scouter.

“Look what’s going on in the world today and these kids are starting to see it and maybe understand a little bit more as to how they got their freedom and who sacrificed to give them their freedoms. We go over it in easy ways for all age groups to understand, and this is their way of helping to give back ,and helping the Legion in their work and it is a good community service for the kids to get involved with.”

The campaign focus was on encouraging people to just wear a poppy.

“This year what we wanted to do was we wanted to prioritize people wearing a poppy as opposed to the donations,” said Jeff Alden, branch poppy chairmen.

“Our poppy fund is good. We’re (in a) comfortable position that this year we figure we should prioritize just getting people to wear a poppy. So what we had the intention of doing, and you’ll see some of our poppy boxes have a label on them, ‘Just Wear A Poppy’ and we put it over the coin slot for a reason. The reason was to emphasize taking the poppy and not making a donation. It’s not that we don’t want people to make donations. We fully accept donations and people are more than welcome to feel free do it. There’s just alternative ways of making donations than dropping coins in the box and most people that’s what they have the availability to do.”

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