Barbadians are being called on to support the annual poppy drive which assists veterans that are in need.
On the occasion of Remembrance Day, the management of the Barbados Legion and the Barbados Poppy League appealed to the public to remember that the poppy drive, held every November to raise funds for former servicemen and women who are in dire need, plays a significant role.
Following the annual Remembrance Day Parade, and a short inter-denominational service at the Cenotaph, National Heroes Square, The City, President of the Barbados Poppy League, Robert Graham, told members of the media that the League, and the Legion, are concerned about the falloff in donations to the poppy drive.
Graham said the League is also worried that there has also been a decline in the number of businesses donating to the cause.
“Last year, as well as this year, corporate Barbados has not been as forthcoming as before. The money that we collect for the poppy appeal is used to pay allowances to some of the veterans that we have. We still have some from the second World War,” Graham said.
We have veterans who served, manned the guns along the coastline of Barbados, who dealt with all kinds of incidents in Barbados. Some of them have fallen on hard times and we gave them an allowance to help with the pensions that they get. We also provide medical assistance, wheelchairs, we also help to repair houses for those people.”
The League receives a subvention from Government.
Graham explained that the League has entered a partnership with two local companies that have pledged to give a percentage of their sales to the drive.
The Poppy League is the fundraising arm of the Barbados Legion which was formed in 1957.
There are currently 500 veterans, 23 of whom are presently on welfare. The Legion receives about two to three requests per month. Fifteen veterans who participated in World War II are still alive, 14 are over 90, and there are three centenarians.
The Legion has a benevolent committee which is responsible for investigating request coming in from the Legionnaires, while there is a social committee that host fun activities for the veterans.
Deputy Chairman of the Barbados Legion, Lt Col, Atheline Branch, said that while the League is experiencing difficulty in its fundraising efforts due to the economic downturn, the schools, soldiers and cadets that assisted in the poppy drive, this year, must be commended.
“I want to thank them. But, we will continue to assist the Legionnaires because as we are all aware, the wars are not finishing. We have Barbadians serving in overseas armies who eventually come home and join our Legion, and we have our own soldiers here who continue to serve Barbados through disaster relief and through assisting the police when it comes to crime prevention. So as far as I can see, we will always have Legionnaires that need our help, and our assistance,” Lt Col Branch said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the Poppy League, Edna Moore, said that in her opinion, in order to boost the League’s fundraising efforts, a campaign must be launched, to educate members of the public about how necessary it is to donate to assisting the men and women who fought for peace.
“It isn’t done and over after the world war, it is an on-going thing. We have to continue educating people that they [veterans] are just as broke as you are. So, a little bit of cash goes a long way,” Moore said, adding that the League is also in need of volunteers to sell poppies. (AH)