The Abbotsford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is changing the way it sells poppies this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Branch president Wendy Schmidt said there will only be one location – Sevenoaks Shopping Centre – for in-person sales, while the number of poppy boxes around the city will be about three times the normal amount.
Schmidt said volunteers this year are covering 12 routes to deliver and pick up the boxes. Each route has 30 to 35 locations, compared to usual years when there are 10 to 15.
The poppy boxes are located in places such as convenience stores, liquor stores, gas stations and liquor stores.
The boxes have been the targets of thieves in past years, and in 2019 the Abbotsford branch took extra precautions to limit these thefts. Any volunteers picking up poppy funds wear a legion uniform and/or have their legion card in a clear plastic container around their neck.
This is to prevent thieves from posing as legion members and picking up the boxes.
Schmidt said many locations also ensure that the boxes are secured in place.
She said donations to the poppy fund are also being accepted by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The branch will also be accepting drive-thru donations at its location at 2513 West Railway St. every day from 1 to 6 p.m., starting Friday, Oct. 30 and running until Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Cash and cheques will be accepted, and Schmidt said the branch also hopes to have debit/credit “tap” available.
“We’re trying to make it as simple as possible for people,” she said.
Schmidt said, despite all these efforts, she expects the amount collected this year to be half of the approximately $75,000 normally raised.
Money raised from the poppy campaign supports veterans with costs such as hearing aids and eyeglasses. It also provides bursaries for family members and helps support local army and air cadets.
The money raised in Abbotsford stays in the community.