Nova Scotia

Legions struggling to find poppy-selling volunteers

Some Royal Canadian Legion members in Pictou County say they are struggling to find volunteers to sell poppies.

Fewer veterans and fewer youth getting involved in sale of poppies

Remembrance Day is just around the corner and veterans are out in full force in most areas selling poppies.

But in some areas that isn't the case. Some Legions are having a tough time finding volunteers to collect the critical donations.

Even after 32 years as a pilot in the Canadian Forces, Don MacKenzie has no plans to end his commitment to his country. That's why he's signing up to do his part in this year's poppy campaign. With fewer veterans every year, he'll likely be pulling in double duty.

"I'm surprised that we have that many blank spaces," said MacKenzie as he overlooked an organizational chart. "We don't normally have that many blank spaces."

The Royal Canadian Legion in New Glasgow is alarmed at the lack of volunteers.

"Trying to recruit new people within the Legion and understanding the values of the Legion, is very very important to us," said MacKenzie. "And recruiting people is difficult also."

That means all the work is falling on the smallest group of veterans they've ever seen.

"We haven't got that many veterans anymore, all our veterans are dying off," said Duncan Beaton, a member at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 34. "The younger people are starting to get involved but I wish we could get more young people involved."

Beaton worries that as the years pass, they'll have an even harder time selling poppies and raising money. The poppy campaign is a critical source of money for lower income veterans.

"It has to be for veterans, their spouses medical needs and hospitals. Stuff like that," said Beaton.

Beaton and MacKenzie are hopeful that cadets and other youth groups will eventually fill the void. But for now, Don MacKenzie says he will soldier on, and carry as much of the load as he can. Just like he did many years ago.