In a year that has left all sorts of charitable groups making new plans on the fly, the 2020 Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign met with mixed results in Salmon Arm and Sicamous.
Matt Fowler, president of the Salmon Arm legion branch, said despite good support from the community, poppy campaign donations were down between 25 and 30 per cent compared to last year. He noted that it might not be an entirely fair comparison because 2019 was a record year for Salmon Arm’s poppy campaign.
Fowler said they did less poppy selling in front of businesses, but few businesses turned down having a poppy box at their checkout counter despite the COVID-19 situation. Support from volunteers was also as good as ever. Fowler noted that donations are still trickling in.
In Sicamous, donations increased compared to last year by about $1,500 according to branch president Bill Moore.
Moore said the money gleaned from the poppy donation boxes was about the same as previous years, but more success was found by persistently soliciting donations from businesses over the phone rather than making a single stop in person.
Poppy campaign volunteers recounted some instances of extreme generosity. Moore said one person stuffed a $100 bill into the tray outside the Sicamous Askew’s location.
Funds from the poppy campaign are specifically earmarked for assisting veterans and seniors.
Although they will be able to keep up that mission ongoing, the Salmon Arm legion is encountering worries over its operating costs as COVID-19 restrictions drag on. The Salmon Arm branch reopened in July, but Fowler said the inability for them to rent out for public events has led to a major loss of revenue and the worst might be yet to come. He said renting out for Christmas parties usually helps fill the Legion’s coffers but with large gatherings banned this year, the Salmon Arm branch could find themselves out as much as $25,000.
“This might be the toughest month in a tough year,” Fowler said.
“The future is up in the air.”