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Legionnaires are distributing poppy stickers along with the traditional lapel pins this year. ((CBC))

A new addition to the Royal Canadian Legion's poppy campaign aims to help keep the sacred symbol of remembrance on the lapels of all Canadians.

The legion introduced a sticker of the red flower, which mirrors the standard lapel pin in size and colour, for the first time in 2007.

During last year's campaign, about 400,000 of the sticker poppies were distributed in Canada, said Steven Clark, an administrative officer with the Royal Canadian Legion's Dominion Command. About 19.1 million conventional lapel poppies were distributed.

Interest in the new style of poppies has been growing this year, Clark said.

The sticker, which is produced by the same company that has held the contract for the velvety pins since 1996, was designed with children, the elderly and those working in health care and the food service industry in mind, Clark said.

Dominion Command had heard from several people in health care and the food industry who had indicated they would like to wear a poppy as a sign of respect in the days leading up to Remembrance Day but were unable to because of the risk the pin may fall off unnoticed, he said.

"They just couldn't chance getting it into a food product or worse," he said.

Clark said teachers and nursing homes also indicated young children and the elderly often struggled with the lapel pins.

Huge demand from schools

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The Royal Canadian Legion is receiving many inquiries about the new poppy sticker from schools. ((Robin Rowland/CBC))

The Belleville, Ont., poppy fund committee ordered 2,000 of the stickers, said campaign volunteer Ross Cummings.

It's the first time the local campaign introduced the sticker, and when schools got wind of their availability, the phone calls started streaming in, Cummings said.

"The teachers like them, especially for the lower grades," he said.

Teachers told volunteers that students in the younger grades had a habit of taking the lapel poppies apart, putting the pins in their mouths or poking themselves and others with the pins, Cummings said.

"They're safer for the kids, for one thing," he said.

Belleville ran out of stickers on Tuesday, and more won't be available before Nov. 11, he said.

The Belleville campaign distributes poppies to about 20 local schools and handed out a mix of lapel pins and stickers this year, Cummings said. Next year the campaign will be ordering even more stickers because of the response.

Remembrance symbol since 1921

The new stickers are designed to be applied to clothing. Though the labelling recommends they not be used on leather, suede, silk or fine wool, such as angora, and that the product be removed within 30 days.

Canadians should be able to get the sticker from any legionnare distributing poppies or at local legion branches, Clark said.

The poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance in 1921, and the pins have been distributed in Canada since 1922.

Clark declined to disclose on how much it costs to produce the pins versus the stickers but said poppies are purposely designed to maximize fundraising potential.

Will not replace lapel pin

The sticker is not intended to replace the lapel poppy, he added.

Dominion Command prefers to see Canadians wear a poppy rather than not, Clark said, and is trying to provide options for all ages and professions to honour war veterans.

"It is a very good item for the people it's intended for, but it is not the intent to ever replace the lapel poppy. The choice would always be yours," he said.

Metal pins, wreathes and poppies designed specifically for display in vehicles and on tables are also available through the legion.

The most recent revenue figures, which are for 2006, indicate the campaign raised $16.5 million in that year.

Canadians are asked to provide a donation each time they pick up a poppy from a Legionnaire. The average donation is about $1, according to the Legion, but any donation is acceptable.

Revenue collected from the annual poppy campaign is used to assist ex-servicemen and servicewomen and their families with medical needs, housing and food.