A group of ladies bustle around a small basement office in the Nutana Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, surrounded by boxes of poppies and wreaths.
It’s called the Poppy Room — but it sounds more like a Poppy Central Command Centre. Volunteers unload boxes upon boxes of poppies, organizing them into containers to hand out to businesses when the campaign kicks off on Friday.
The official time period to wear a poppy is between the last Friday of October and Remembrance Day, according to Diane Robson, the chair of the poppy committee.
“It’s never disrespectful to wear a poppy, but that’s the campaign period,” she said. However, Robson said it is disrespectful to wear the small, red flower anywhere other than the left side of the chest over the heart.
The Nutana location alone deals with 200,000 poppies, Robson said.
The Poppy Room springs to life at the beginning of October, but the initial planning goes back to August. Robson said it involves more than a thousand volunteer hours and doesn’t include the time volunteers spend sitting at tables and delivering the poppies to around 50 different “routes”.
The poppy campaign wouldn’t exist without those volunteers, she points out. Robson describes a 92-year-old man who has being working a route for years. Another woman — who is 93 — offered to sit at one of the donation tables this year.
Robson was introduced to the legion at a young age because her father fought in the Second World War. She said what drives her passion for the poppy is knowing that all the donations stay in the Saskatoon area, helping support cadets and younger veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“To me, it’s not just about people that have served, it’s all the people you’ve known that are no longer with us,” she said. “It’s a remembrance, it really is.”
The poppy campaign will launch at Market Mall on Friday at 10 a.m. and highlight the liberation of the Netherlands.