The Clinton and Forest Grove branches of the Royal Canadian Legion were given a break this month in the form of federal aid.
The branches are among 701 branches across the country that recently applied for financial assistance through Veterans Affairs Canada. The Clinton Legion will receive about $10,000, while Forest Grove will get $11,919.22 in the federal grant monies, according to Bryan Lutz, spokesman for the Legion’s B.C. and Yukon division.
The money is geared toward helping legions struggling to keep up with operational costs in the aftermath of closures and cancelled events due to COVID-19.
Clinton Legion 194 treasurer Marian Nelson said the announcement was good news for the Legion, which has had to cut its hours due to fewer events being held this year and a decline in the number of people coming in. Usually in December, the Legion hosts several Christmas parties as well as a Christmas party for the local children.
“We can’t have entertainment and people can’t come in for special nights,” Nelson said. “It’s not that we’re right broke but if this goes on long enough we could be. We had to cut our hours because we can’t warrant keeping open.”
Both Nelson and Wendy Clarke, of the Forest Grove Legion, said the money will definitely be helpful, especially because they still have bills and insurance to pay. Clarke said they still have a lot of support from the community and are doing take-out dinners but every little bit helps since they are only open two days a week.
“We’re hanging in there. It’s hard to make ends meet,” she said. “We’re lucky we had some savings put away for a rainy day. This is our rainy day.”
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 260 in 100 Mile didn’t apply for the funding, president Leo Holthuysen said. “We didn’t qualify. It was only for legions in financial trouble. Luckily we can say our members are keeping us afloat,” he said, adding the legion also gets rental income from a suite about the legion. “We’re holding our own. We didn’t want to take any money from other legions that might need it. That’s not fair.”
Altogether the Royal Canadian Legion received $14 million dollars out of a $20 million dollar package earmarked for Veteran Organizations as part of Bill C-4, approved earlier this fall. In total, just over $7.2 million dollars distributed by the Legion’s National Headquarters and more funds will be disbursed in the coming weeks.