The Rotorua RSA is making a desperate plea for Poppy Day volunteers this year after "getting really low on numbers".

Tomorrow on Friday, April 20, volunteers all around the country will exchange the distinctive red poppies for a donation in support of our current and ex-service personnel, including the NZ Police, and their families.

Rotorua RSA executive committee member Phillipa Jenkins said it has been much harder for her to organise volunteers this year.

"It has been getting tight the last few years but more so this year. It is critical. Those who would traditionally help out have aged. Five people on our list passed away in the last year and quite a few cannot help due to ill health."

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Rotorua RSA executive committee member Phillipa Jenkins. Photo/Andrew Warner
Rotorua RSA executive committee member Phillipa Jenkins. Photo/Andrew Warner

She said five more people had put their hand up in the past few days, but they were still 17 short.

"We have just under 200 volunteers currently and we need 216 all up to man all 27 tables. Otherwise, we will have to cut two tables.

"The schools have been magic. We have students from Western Heights High School, John Paul College, Rotorua Lakes High School and Rotorua Girls' High School helping fill the gaps. Rotorua Boys' isn't able to this year but we understood they had prior commitments."

Jenkins has also been contacting other community groups such as Lions and Rotary clubs for help.

"Basically all it is is manning a table with a box of poppies for four hours, in the morning or afternoon, then they drop the bucket back."

She said Rotorua fundraising only went to retired service members in this district.

"They apply for assistance as required, they are all local people. Whereas if people buy poppies online the money goes into the national funding pool."

Rotorua RSA president Bryce Morrison said any offer of help from the general public would be good.

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"If we have to bring down the number of outlets, that brings down the fundraising tally which goes to the welfare of veterans."

Poppies were the first flowers that grew in the battlefields of Flanders in Belgium during World War I.

They have become a symbol of remembrance and hope.

Poppy Day started in 1922 and it is usually held each year on the Friday before Anzac Day.

How to help:
Contact Phillipa Jenkins on 027 758 4472 to volunteer for four hours between 8.30am and 12.30pm or 12.30pm and 4.30pm tomorrow, Friday April 20.