The 100 Mile House Legion is approaching this year’s poppy campaign with caution after a theft that last year left members aghast.
Free Press employees were horrified last year to discover that the sweet, elderly woman who came to pick up the poppy money was not actually affiliated with the Legion.
The mystery thief was never revealed and the money was never recovered.
“Of course everyone was aghast and just saying, ‘What is going on with people’,” legion treasurer Ray Carlson recalled.
“Maybe the honour system has gone out the window.”
Carlson was unsure whether thefts occurred at any of the other 100 Mile businesses with a poppy bin, but said he has heard of poppy funds disappearing in other towns.
“We’re trying to run a new ship here, so we’re not going to point fingers and blame people and so on and so forth,” he said. “What went on last year, I hope that’s the end of it.”
Elsie Urquhart, the legion’s poppy chairperson, has been running the poppy campaign for years. She took a year off from organizing last year, however, and opted for some personal time to recover from the wildfires, she said.
Urquhart is back on top of the poppies again and determined to prevent another theft.
“Yeah, after last year I said, ‘No, that’s not going to happen again.’”
She, too, has heard of these kinds of thefts in other communities but said she thinks it was the first ever instance in 100 Mile House.
“It’s so sad because they’re stealing from our veterans.”
Urquhart said every volunteer who distributes the poppy bin donation box will wear an official volunteer ribbon and be equipped with a typed letter from the legion.
The letter will include the name of every volunteer involved in the poppy campaign.
She said it is mandatory that the volunteer show the letter when they come to collect the donations.