What "Buddy Poppy" donations are used for locally

Saturday, November 3, 2018

This is a Buddy Poppy
made by disabled veterans
Veterans' Day Buddy Poppy event will be held at local stores on Friday and Saturday, November 9-10, 2018 with local Veterans of Foreign Wars accepting donations.

By Carl "Chris" Christopherson, 
Post Commander
Blackburn-Aurora VFW Post 3348
Shoreline, North Seattle and Vicinity

Personally, I never heard of Buddy Poppies until I got into VFW in 2008. Once I got involved, I did not know what to do, standing outside some Albertsons back in 2009 holding this red flower and a collection can. I had been told that I would be surprised.

I was. Not only did people come up to me, I was hearing stories of the military exploits of brothers, fathers, uncles, daughters, etc. During the occasional quiet time, I would see people get out of their car, spot my VFW hat from 100 yds away, and start pulling their wallet out as the walked toward the store. It was interesting.

Once I became the Post Commander in 2010, I discovered that the Buddy Poppies that we bought, came from the VA but were manufactured by disabled veterans. I found out that Buddy Poppies are very popular in both Canada and England. Interesting.

I also discovered that our own Buddy Poppy events were terribly organized. I fixed that. My brother, who recruited me, told me that if they ever got over $3,000 in donations, they were thrilled. He never heard if our Post, in turn, made their own donations.

The history of the Buddy Poppy, which BTW is actually authorized by the U.S. Government for the VFW (only) to use for fundraising, is interesting but not as much as what it represents, which is that it contributes to helping veterans. The VA is a big help to veterans. But many veterans need additional help.

Once I got things organized, our members were shocked that we started getting in excess of $10,000 from each event. It became an additional joy for our members to debate to whom we make our own donations --- since we had something worthwhile that we could donate.

We do not donate to large organizations e.g. Wounded Warriors since they are a private organizations who get huge donations for others that afford them the ability to put our national TV ads. Plus some of my members, all volunteers, were upset that the top executives of the likes of Wounded Warriors made fat 6 figure salaries. Any donation we could have made to them would have been like a drop in the ocean.

We wanted to make a difference locally. So we donate to the likes of the USO Northwest @ SeaTac (largest USO in the country), Fisher House Puget Sound (across the street from the VA hospital in Seattle), the Joint Service Committee who are all volunteers (including two lawyers) that work directly with veterans on their VA Claims --- specializing in helping veterans with PTSD, the Shoreline Veterans Center (Compass Housing Alliance), etc.

Speaking of the Shoreline Veterans Center, once I was in charge, we were sending a $1500 check to their central HQ in downtown Seattle. We would get a thank you letter. I was shocked when one of my members was at the Shoreline Veterans Center working with a veteran on his VA Claim.

He happened to ask the veteran if he was aware that our Post makes donations, twice a year, to them. The veteran said “No, never heard anything.” My member wisely asked him what would you personally do with a donation. This veteran said “Hell, man, there are men and women here who need socks.”

I went back to the Shoreline Veterans Center and asked “what could you use”. The most common answer was a gift card to Fred Meyer or Walmart. Thus, for the last two years, twice a year, we have hand delivered 24 Gifts cards ($50 each) to the Shoreline Veterans Center. I have personally witnessed veterans running down the hall when they heard we were there. My members like that reaction. We usually make donations to about a dozen organizations, mostly local.

We'll be at local stores on Friday and Saturday, November 9-10, 2018 accepting donations in return for a Buddy Poppy.


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