Members of the Abbotsford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion are upset that the hours for their poppy campaign have been reduced at the Costco store on Sumas Way.
Gary Goodfellow, poppy chairman for the local branch, said the legion was given only four days this year – Nov. 2, 3, 9 and 10 – to distribute the symbol of remembrance at the front of the store.
Previously, legion members and members of local youth cadet organizations distributed the poppies for a full two-week period every day during store hours.
They continue to do so at other locations around Abbotsford, including liquor stores, Sevenoaks Shopping Centre, Walmart and Zellers.
Goodfellow said the donations collected at Costco alone amount to about $1,000 a day during the campaign.
He said he was surprised to hear about the reduction in hours, but did not receive a clear answer about the decision.
No other locations have tried to reduce the hours they make available for the poppy campaign, he said.
“It’s really upsetting everybody,” Goodfellow added.
Inga Kruse, executive director of the Royal Canadian Legion B.C./Yukon Command, said the provincial organization was notified by the Abbotsford branch that their hours had been cut at Costco.
She said this year marks the first time she has heard of such a move.
“I think it’s shameful,” she said. “That Costco should think very, very hard about what their view is on veterans.”
Kruse said the funds raised during the poppy campaign support programs at the local, provincial and national levels.
This includes the Veterans’ Transition Program, which provides trauma counselling and other services to veterans of all ages. Many of them are young men and women suffering from the effects of war in places such as Bosnia and Afghanistan, she said.
The Abbotsford branch donated $9,000 to that program in the last two years, Goodfellow said.
But legion member Alan Hood said it’s about more than just the money.
“(The Costco decision) is quite sad when you think about it because … of what the vets have done for the people of today,” he said.
A manager reached at the Abbotsford Costco said the days and hours designated for the 2012 poppy campaign was a corporate decision.
He referred The News to the corporate media relations department for comment, but a representative could not be reached for comment and did not return messages.