October 29, 2018 5:48 pm

Moncton legion expects shortfall after Costco poppy campaign cutback

Mon, Oct 29: As poppy campaigns get underway across the country, one local legion is scrambling after being forced out of a big box store. Costco has cut back the number of days a Moncton legion can set up in its store. As Callum Smith explains, the legion predicts it will be out tens of thousands of dollars.

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A local legion estimates they will have a shortfall of “between $15,000 and $20,000” after being told their fundraising time in a local Costco has been cut back.

Moncton Branch 6 had members and volunteers set up at Costco collecting donations in return for a poppy over the weekend, however they were told their time inside the store during the national two-week campaign was now limited to four days.

“The reasoning that we were given was that corporate headquarters had made a donation direct to Dominion Command of the legion,” says Al Johnston, president of Moncton Legion Branch 6.

“Therefore, communiqué came out for this.”

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Al Johnston, president of Moncton Legion Branch 6, estimates the group will be short between $15,000-$20,000 due to the cutback at Costco.

Callum Smith/Global News

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Typically, the legion raises between $85,000 and $100,000 each year during the poppy campaign — its only initiative to raise money for veterans in the area.

“Any money that we are short in raising this year, during this campaign, we will feel right up until the 30th of September before we can start again,” said Johnston.

Johnston says before they could even look at distributing funds in 2017, $25,000 was used to cover the costs of the campaign, such as purchasing poppies, wreaths and other necessary materials.

With the remaining funds, the local branch awarded 25 bursaries of $1,000 each to local students related to veterans.

“It is not the fault of the (Moncton) Costco, and I hope none of our residents will blame them,” says Johnston. “They are getting direction from corporate headquarters.”

Johnston says the Moncton Costco is left to enforce a national policy, limiting the legion to just four days of fundraising at its store.

Callum Smith/Global News

“In addition to the bursaries and the poster and literacy contest, the Veterans Centre — we also support cadet corps that help us with the poppy campaign,” he says.

The Veterans Centre in Moncton is where most of the local veterans who receive contributions from the poppy campaign live.

Johnston says bursaries would be the first thing to be cut back, impacting the local community.

“We have to consider the needs of the veterans for the entire year before we look at the amount of bursaries,” he says. “Bursaries would be the first thing that we would have to look at.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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