After a very successful first year, the Wellesley Poppy Project is once again asking for donations of knitted or crocheted poppies to be used in a Remembrance Day display.
Last year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the symbol of the poppy, four Wellesley Township women – Barb Nowak, Beth Schlueter, Karen Pilecki and Wendy Richardson – aimed to receive a total of 100 poppies. Instead they received more than 2,000.
“We were shocked we got that many,” said Nowak.
Several residents alone each made more than 100, explained Schlueter.
Each of the women involved have different reasons for getting onboard, as Nowak, Schlueter and Richardson all had family members that served in the world wars.
Richardson’s parents lived in Holland during the Second World War, and both her dad and uncle spent time as prisoners of war. Nowak had 11 family members who served in the wars. Her uncle was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, while her father was a POW in Germany in the Second World War.
Schlueter’s five uncles all fought in the Second World War, with one of them dying during the liberation of the Netherlands.
Last year the group used 1,500 poppies in a display with a wooden silhouette of a soldier and a ‘Lest We Forget’ sign. The display, which was located at the township administration office, also received a visit from Premier Doug Ford.
“It was really a nice recognition of what we had done. It’s something that we feel very passionately about, and we want to continue to keep doing it,” said Nowak.
Depending on the number donated this year, the group is looking to drape a display of poppies tied to golf netting on a bridge in the township. Richardson has made an afghan with poppies for a raffle set for October 8, with all proceeds going to the Royal Canadian Legion.
“It’s important for people to continue to support the Legion because then they support veterans,” said Nowak.
The group also runs a Facebook group and is gathering stories from those who had family members that served. It’s hard to find someone whose family hasn’t been impacted by conflict, Nowak said
“That was our purpose to remember those who served and to honour them.”
For Nowak, the poppy is a reminder of those who served and sacrificed.
“They might not have sacrificed their lives but they certainly sacrificed their life in the sense that they left their jobs, they left their families and they went across the ocean to Europe – those people are forever grateful,” she said.
While Schlueter says it is difficult to explain in a few words, for her it is a symbol of her uncle “and the family who never forgets.
“Even though the numbers are fewer now, we’re there at the Waterloo cenotaph every year,” she said.
To Richardson the colour of the poppy bears great significance.
“It symbolizes those that have shed their blood and their sweat and their tears for us,” she said.
Raffle tickets for the afghan are being sold for $2 at the Wellesley farmers’ market (Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.), Grammy’s Boutique and Salon W. in St. Clements, locations include inSeason Home and Garden and St. Clements Food. Tickets can also be purchased at Linwood Home Hardware or by contacting Wendy Richardson at email@example.com.