The annual poppy campaign is underway in Guelph ahead of Remembrance Day as residents are encouraged to purchase and wear the red and black pin as a way to honour Canada’s veterans.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the poppy being adopted as the flower of remembrance, according to the Royal Canadian Legion.
The poppy is, of course, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Guelph’s own John McCrae during the First World War.
David Thompson is the remembrance and poppy committee chairman at the Guelph branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. He said they are optimistic about this year’s campaign.
“We’ve found that people in Guelph are very generous and very supportive of it,” he said.
Thompson added that this year’s campaign is seeing the return of the local army cadets who assist in collecting donations and handing out poppies.
They did not participate last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will be using a few cadets but not the same number as in the past,” Thompson said. “They got permission from their higher-ups to go ahead under certain conditions.”
It’s estimated that 20 million poppies will be distributed this year.
Usually, the local legion can hit $100,000 in donations during the poppy campaign, but last year it only raised $79,000 due to a number of factors related to the pandemic.
Thompson said he hopes to at least surpass last year’s earnings.
That goal could be met with the help of new technology in the form of a tap-enabled poppy donation box that is being used in Guelph for the first time.
Thompson said it is installed at Costco on Elmira Road and allows people to make a donation of $2, $5 or $10 with a simple tap of a debit or credit card.
“With people using credit cards so much, we think this will be the way of the future,” Thompson said.
He also added that the poppy campaign has benefitted from people not carrying as much change as they used to.
“So, instead people but in bills,” he said. “We’ve always had a strong poppy trust fund and, of course, that money goes back out to veteran organizations and programs, and it funds the cadets here in town.”
The poppy campaign runs until Remembrance Day.