PALESTINE — In addition to items on the household grocery list, shoppers at Palestine Wal-Mart will have a chance to pick up a special memorial poppy this weekend, in support of local veterans and their families.
Through a program of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), the red crepe paper poppies are made by veterans in hospitals and workshops throughout the United States as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation. The ALA supplies materials for making the poppies, which are then distributed across the country on Poppy Days as both a fundraiser and national remembrance campaign. Donations are encouraged, but not required.
Local residents can participate in this month's poppy drive Friday, Saturday and Sunday at tables located by the Palestine Wal-Mart entrances.
Contributions received from Poppy Days go directly to aid war veterans and/or their families at the local level, according to Ross Richardson, adjutant and finance officer for American Legion Post 85.
“Everything pretty much stays local,” Richardson said. “We've been doing it since July of last year... pretty much every month, we try to do one.”
In addition to supporting local veterans and their families, Richardson said proceeds also go to sponsor American Legion Boys State — a high school government-education program in which students “get to go to Austin and learn how the state legislature works,” Richardson said — Boy Scouts, and other community programs.
“And of course, if a veteran or a veteran's family is in need of assistance, the money goes toward that as well,” he added. “One thing I like people to know about the American Legion, it is the oldest veterans organization. It covers everybody. It's not just any specific branch or any specific war era, but it covers all veterans... and it gets involved in the community.”
Last year, the local Post 85 raised more than $1,200 through the poppy drives.