The very first branch of the Royal Canadian Legion has been supporting war veterans in Regina for generations, but when it needed support to keep the doors open, civilians answered the call.
The Legion has recently been struggling to stay afloat as older veterans die and memberships decline.
On Thursday, the Greg Morgan Morning Show broadcasted live from the Legion on Cornwall Street, sparking a phenomenal response from listeners and local residents who donated more than $30,000 within three hours on Thursday morning. The final total was just over $37,000.
Ron Hitchcock, the first vice president of the Royal Canadian Legion Regina branch 001, said the cost of operating the building itself is about $15,000 per year.
“Thank you very much to everyone, I love Saskatchewan – the climate may be cold but the hearts are warm,” he said.
The money raised is separate from the Poppy Fund which goes directly to veterans. The legion itself needs money for upkeep of the building and to continue operating the museum.
It also provides programs to help homeless veterans and others to help provide coping skills for veterans who are injured or have mental health issues stemming from their service. Another program helps pair service dogs with veterans.
“We’ve had cases where veterans come to town and they look to the legion because they know they’ll get help here, and if we’re not here then where would they go?”
Hitchcock said now the Legion won’t have to worry about keeping the lights on, instead they can focus on their mission to help veterans and their families.
“There’s people today even in our own country that are defending our home, defending our country and they come back and they need our help,” Hitchcock said. “It is our duty as a community, as citizens of this country to do look after the people that defend us.”
Executive Director Chad Wagner described some of the programs the legion runs to help veterans.
— With files from 980 CJME’s Lisa Schick
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to correct inacurrate information about a service record.