RSA short of Poppy Day help

By Imran Ali

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Chris Harold from the Whangarei RSA holds a poppy that will be available to the public on Friday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Chris Harold from the Whangarei RSA holds a poppy that will be available to the public on Friday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A lack of volunteers for this week's Poppy Appeal in Whangarei has organisers worried they may be unable to match previous years' collections to support those who rely on the donations.

Three days out from the collection day this Friday, only about 25 volunteers have signed up and the Whangarei RSA Trust chairman Archie Dixon has pleaded with individuals to help out for a worthy cause.

"Even an hour would be of great help to us," he said.

Each year, the trust raises about $35,000 during the Poppy Appeal which Mr Dixon says gives organisers a good "break even point".

"That [lack of volunteers] is one of the dilemmas we have on Poppy Day this year and that could impact on our collection."

He explained the present situation had arisen because the war veterans and their wives or widows have stopped participating because of infirmity.

"Our World War II veterans are in their 90s, Korean War vets in their late 80s and Vietnam vets in their 70s and 80s so that is the singular inhibiting factor for us to do the job," Mr Dixon said.

"We rely on community-spirited individuals and the schools and cadet forces who support us in a very special way."

Mr Dixon said money raised from the poppy appeal provided much-needed support services to the war veterans, their widows and dependants. There were, he said, other extraordinary circumstances where the RSA Trust could provide financial help such as cataract operation, new glasses, dentures, and hearing aids.

Since 2002, Mr Dixon said the trust had funded more than 120 cataract operations, which meant that many people have been taken off the hospital list.

This year, between 25,000 and 30,000 poppies will be distributed to people on the streets as well as businesses and schools throughout Whangarei in return for donation. Mr Dixon said anyone who wished to volunteer could contact the trust on 09 4389680.

The public can support the appeal by donating to a street appeal collector on Friday or by contributing $3 by texting poppy to 4662.

Online donations can also be made at Z service stations will have super-sized poppies available that can be displayed on vehicles or windows.

- Northern Advocate

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