On Wednesday afternoon Fairview Cemetery was filled with volunteers planting their handfuls of poppies by each grave. The Lacombe Legion placed poppies on the graves of veterans every year but this was the first year they asked the public to help with the task.
Janna Hughes, who has volunteered with the legion for many years, organized the event. She hopes people take time this year to think about the sacrifices that were made by the veterans who are buried in the cemetery.
“Lots of people walk through here on a daily basis and sometimes if they see a poppy it makes them stop and think for a second,” said Hughes.
Hughes, whose grandparents are both veterans, provided the handmade poppy sticks and also arranged for hot chocolate to be available for volunteers to keep them warm. The roughly 300 graves of the veterans are scattered around the cemetery and volunteers fanned out to make sure each headstone had a poppy on the right side.
The event was originally set for Oct. 24 but because of the cold weather was rescheduled for Wednesday.
Hughes said she tries to organize some sort of project for the Legion every year but this was her first year in charge of the poppy laying. Last year she and a few other volunteers hand-painted 300 rocks to lay by the graves all year round.
Alisha Bryan who showed up to help distribute the poppies and pay her respects said supporting the Legion is meaningful to her and her family.
“I have two boys and it’s important for them to learn how to give back to the community,” said Bryan.
This year the Legion is facing some difficulties with collecting poppy donations because of COVID-19. Legion members are no longer allowed inside grocery stores and similar businesses because of the provincial health protocols.
“A lot of people don’t go into certain businesses, or they might not see the poppy boxes,” said Hughes. “So unfortunately it’s going to hamper them financially.”
The Legion is asking those who want to donate to the poppy fund to contact their local Legion. Poppy sales begin on Oct. 30.