Annual poppy campaign facing shortage of New Brunswick volunteers
Published Sunday, October 16, 2016 7:17PM ADT
Legions across Canada are preparing to kick off their annual poppy campaigns on Oct. 28, but this year some branches are having trouble finding volunteers to help distribute the iconic symbols of remembrance.
Organizers say it's becoming more of a challenge every year to find enough volunteers to distribute the poppies to the public.
“We could use volunteers in any aspect,” says Fredericton’s Legion Branch Number 4 president Don Swain. “We've got certain people who work in it continuously and they're just going to be run ragged. There are so many places to go to and so many different boxes to distribute.”
The campaign helps to raise money to support veterans at the legion and in the community.
“We don't sell poppies, we give the poppies away, and the money that we receive for them is just the kindness of the heart. It’s just a donation,” says Swain.
Members of the cadets often step up to help, but Legion Branch Number 4 is putting out a call for any other volunteers in the community to step forward.
Some say dwindling membership is another factor. One Service officer says he remembers 15 years ago when the legion branch had about 3,000 members who could be called on to help.
“Right now, down to 600 and some,” says Jim Burns. “You take myself, I’m pushing 80, I’m not a young man anymore, and as you can see I got to use a chair to get around.”
Cindy Sanders, the executive director of the legion's head office in New Brunswick, says other organizations that rely on volunteers are facing similar challenges.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.