Two hundred and seventy-nine poppies line the walls of Branch 88 of the Royal Canadian Legion, each one lovingly handcrafted from T-shirt fabric and fabric stiffener – one for every man and woman from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows who went overseas to serve during the First and Second World Wars.
It took 48 petals to make one poppy. The petals took one hour to form, 20 minutes to cut out and another 20 minutes to put together.
“I’ve been working on this for the past year and finally got them up on Monday,” said Sandi Wight.
Wight, with the branch, also organized a paint night, when 25 ladies and one man painted poppies that are displayed in the legion, as well.
The poppy is worn as a visual pledge to honour Canada’s veterans and to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that Canadians enjoy today.
But Wight is concerned this year because the legion is desperately short of taggers.
“Our veterans are all getting much older. We need the younger people to come and step up,” said Wight.
They need at least another 30 taggers to fill the gaps.
Last year, more than $72,000 was raised, and legion members are hoping to raise the same, if not more, this year.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of taggers. Many spots do not get filled,” said Poppy campaign chair Judy Ballard.
There are about 30 people tagging right now, but many of them do more than one shift.
“I have some taggers who go out every morning except on the weekend. We have the three cadet cores that go out on the weekend: army, sea and air cadets. They do a great job for us,” she said.
“I wish for a legion as large as ours that our members would support the Poppy Campaign with a few hours of their time to tag,” added Ballard.
All of the money raised goes to help veterans and their dependents in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
They are assisted with purchasing wheelchairs, able walkers, canes, crutches, scooters, bath aids and other medical items.
Once the veterans’ physical needs are taken care of, the rest of the money will be donated to the Ridge Meadows Hospital for equipment.
“In the past, we’ve donated money towards a CT scan, special beds, special harnesses to move patients from bed to chair. The more money we have, and the more helpers we have, the more veterans we can help,” said Wight.
“It only takes two hours of your time and any two hours is appreciated,” she said of tagging.
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