Lest we forget our legions

Looking around at store displays, our neighbours’ homes and even the pages of this paper, it may appear that much of the Parksville Qualicum Beach region used Remembrance Day as a set of starting blocks to launch into the 2017 Christmas season.

But, lest we forget, the area’s Royal Canadian Legion branches do not simply close down operations on Nov. 12. Short of calling for a false start on the sprint toward Dec. 25, perhaps we could at least spare a bit of remembrance for the work that legion and auxiliary members do for the local communities throughout the year.

Members of the Canadian Legion branch 49 in Parksville, branch 76 in Qualicum Beach and branch 211 in Bowser take charge, of course, of our various commemorations of Canada’s military and historical achievements, including Remembrance Day, Canada Day, the Battle of the Atlantic, Robbie Burns Day and more.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Through largely volunteer efforts, legion members raise money that provides scholarships and bursaries to local students. Legion fundraising generates thousands of dollars for an extensive roster of non-profit and volunteer societies, who, in turn, benefit a wide swath of residents.

In 2010 alone, for example, the tiny legion branch in Bowser distributed cheques totaling $52,965 to 39 different organizations. They covered nearly every age group and segment of society, from cadets and Special Olympians, to fire departments and search and rescue teams, to hospital foundations and stroke recovery support, to seniors housing and senior athletes.

What legions are not collecting to the same degree they once did is members. Every year the volunteers seem to get a bit older, and a bit fewer in number.

If you’re unable or unwilling to sign up, consider at least dropping by a local legion hall for a pint, a pool game, or an entertainment event.

During certain times of the year you can enjoy a pancake breakfast by morning, and try your chances in a meat draw by evening.

By all means, get back into the race toward Christmas and the “season of giving.” Your local legion members will continue to observe that season as a year-round event.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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