Letter: Coquitlam businesses are failing to support poppy drive during COVID

The Editor, 

I am writing out of sadness, anger and frustration. COVID has really impacted every single walk of life: People and their homes, businesses and jobs the list goes on.

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COVID has effected everything, yet we have still found ways of managing. You are able to go grocery shopping, out for dinner and drinks, to small family functions, get your nails done, take your children to the pumpkin patch and so much more. You just do it safely.

As a person who has worked the “frontlines” this entire pandemic, I have seen and experienced the changes that have taken place. I have seen the toll this pandemic has taken on the front line workers. We, as front line workers, keep showing up. I am grateful for the job security I have had during this time as I know that is not the case for everyone. I am thankful for the health of my friends and family. I am thankful for my health. 

I come from a strong family of men and women who serve the community proudly. I, in fact, learned my drive to serve the community from my parents. They have taught me many things in my life. Collectively, they have served the city of Vancouver as first responders for over 70 years. Now that both have had long careers, they continue to give back.

Coquitlam Legion 263 almost went under this past March. I know this was the case for many many businesses. The difference between the legion and other businesses is that the legion’s job is to give. We all volunteer our time to ensure that we can provide our veterans and servicemen and women support. Our veterans are so important. 

This unique group of men and women fought for us to have the rights we have today. One of those rights is to ultimately choose to wear a mask or not. By living in Canada, we are lucky to be able to pick and choose what works best for yourself.

Because of these brave men and women, you can walk down the street safely, wear what you want, vote and so much more. The reality of it is some of these men and women made it home, others paid the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. Some are here in one piece physically, but not mentally. From personal experiences, I have seen the destruction that veterans experience. I have seen the mental injuries they carry.

As we know, Remembrance Day is coming up. That means poppies will be out, and people will be making donations. All I have to say after attempting to drop poppy trays off at local businesses is do better Coquitlam. Do better! I was disgusted by some of our so-called “community supporters.” 

Just because COVID is here doesn’t mean that the needs of those who have served have disappeared. I get that it is a sticky situation because you reach into the donation tray with your dirty money and grab a poppy. What is the difference between donating and grabbing a poppy and changing your mind on a bottle of juice and putting it back on the shelf? There is not one. It’s a communal surface until you bring it home. 

I am calling out local businesses here and any other “community supporter” who has taken steps back from the little support they provide. You might think it is “nothing” to not accept a poppy tray in your business, but it is everything for the legion. 

I challenge you as a business to make a donation in light of COVID. Even though you are “uncomfortable” having it there, you allow customers and clients to touch products and machines. 

I challenge those around me to make donations. I challenge everyone to reflect on the fact our freedoms and rights were fought for, not given. I will not let this great day of respect and honour be swept under the rug. Above all else I challenge you to be better people. 

Allie Chapman, Port Moody

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