In spite of the coronavirus pandemic, and also because of it, The Royal Canadian Legion has figured out a new way to raise funds for military veterans as Remembrance Day approaches — by selling a product that is both practical and popular..
They are selling custom-made masks for the legion produced by a Montreal company, partly because legion members can’t distribute poppies like they’re used to.
According to legion officials, the masks were originally supposed to be distributed to Canadian veterans in long-term care homes over the summer, to help protect them and others from contracting COVID-19. Production began in March.
But the legion and the company said the face coverings became so popular with the public that other people began demanding them, and so far they’ve sold more than 200,000 of them.
“For (the) legion alone we’re probably pumping out about 25,000 pieces a week,” said Jeffrey Burt, who heads APF Marketing, the company making the masks.
Now the masks are sold out. There’s a notice on the legion’s website says they’re expecting delivery Nov. 26, and with Remembrance Day in two days, workers at the company’s warehouse in Côte-des-Neiges are rushing to get more masks shipped off quickly.
“With Remembrance Day around the corner there’s a surge in the demand,” said Stephen Myers of S.H. Myers Promotions, who said he came up with the idea for the masks.
Nujma Bond, communications manager for the legion, said with the limits on collecting poppy donations this year, buying the masks is just one more way people can help the legion raise funds to help veterans.
“It shows great support for the legion and the work that it does, and ultimately for the help that we can provide our veterans,” she told Global News.
She explained that the proceeds go to a general fund that also helps legion branches with programmes that serve their communities.
Montreal comic Joey Elias got his mask in July. He pointed out that for those who can, spending $10 on a mask from the legion is one way to give back to veterans.
“Listen, they fought for us,” he stressed. “Now it’s our time to fight for them and whatever we can do, I know it’s tough on people with money and stuff, we should.”
Burt agrees, saying making these masks is his way of paying tribute, and saying thanks.
“I’m very proud, very honoured to be part of this,” he said as he inspected a new shipment of freshly-made masks at the company’s warehouse.
“I mean, a lot of us lose perspective of what’s happening and the sacrifices they make for us to be able to live in the world we live in.”
Besides, Elias pointed out, there is a practical side to wearing the mask.
“Unlike the poppy it doesn’t fly off, you know?” he laughed.
Legion officials said the masks will be available for as long as they remain a public health requirement.