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Poppy fund aids local veterans

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The Fort Frances Legion Br. #29 kicked off its annual poppy campaign on Oct. 26 and has been canvassing at local stores, banks, and other areas around town.

Funds raised go directly into the Poppy Fund, which helps to support any local veterans and their relatives.

“The Poppy Fund is the trust fund that is set up for the vets,” noted Legion office manager Veronica Davis.

During the poppy campaign, which runs until Nov. 11, people can purchase poppies, wreaths, and crosses for the Remembrance Day ceremony that will take place this Sunday starting at 10:56 a.m. at the Fort Frances cenotaph.

“All the money that we raise at our Legion stays at our Legion,” Davis stressed.

“It's all dispersed locally.”

Ideally, the Poppy Fund raises $10,000 or more each year. And since March, 2016 the local Legion has donated more than $40,000 to different initiatives, organizations, and supports for veterans and their first- or second-generation descendants.

For Riverside alone, the Legion recently donated $2,000 to help pay for a monitor for the O.R. and in December of last year, it donated $10,000 for a Lifepak machine.

As well, the Legion has donated money for the purchasing of special mattresses, a vital signs machine, and bladder scanner.

Other places poppy funds get directed towards include the local Air Cadets squadron and high school bursaries.

The way the Legion decides what money goes where is through requests that are sent in from various groups and organizations.

After the Legion receives a request, it goes to the executive branch for approval. If so, it's then brought to a meeting so members can have their final say on whether it should be approved.

The request then sent to Provincial Command to get the final OK, at which time the funds can be dispersed.

Apart from the poppy fund, the local Legion also has a charity fund that comes from the 50/50 and meat draws it hosts.

This money is donated to non-veteran related initiatives in the community, such as youth groups, the “chem-free” grad party, minor hockey, figure skating, and youth curling.

“Any youth group can send us a letter, and then the executive looks at and the general [membership] looks at it and as long as it's something local, it seems to pass,” Davis said.

These requests do not need approval from Provincial Command.

Remembrance Day, meanwhile, has a special place in Davis' heart because if it wasn't for the Canadian armed forces, she may not be in Fort Frances today.

“There's a lot of people in the country, myself included, who would not be here if the Canadians had not liberated Holland,” she noted.

The Legion values getting children involved. Davis said they need more youth to get active to keep the Legion alive for future years.

Members of the Legion will be visiting local schools to educate students about the importance of Remembrance Day and the ultimate sacrifice Canadian troops have made.

Schools also will be participating in both poster and poetry contests.

“It is important to get the youth more involved because the way to continue the Legion is to get new members, younger members, youth,” Davis reasoned.

Meanwhile, veterans who are not members of the Legion always can drop by and receive assistance, she noted.

“We have less red tape than Veterans Affairs so little things we can get done faster sometimes,” Davis said.

“We're here to serve the vets," she stressed. "If vets need to get help, they can call the office.”

The Legion always is looking for more volunteers and members to ensure it continues to thrive.

“We welcome new members at any time," Davis said. "Anybody can join. You no longer need to be a vet to join the Legion.”

Anyone interested can contact the Legion office at 274-0129.

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