Guest Column

The Story of the VFW "Buddy Poppy"


NATIONAL - Dedicated to the memory of the men who fought and died in France during World War I, the Poppies have become the true symbol of all those who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.  The Poppy memorial flower is distributed by veterans’ organizations in Europe, in America, and most of the countries of the British Commonwealth.

Since 1922, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has conducted an annual distribution of “Buddy” Poppies to raise funds for its charitable programs on behalf of the needy and disabled veterans.

Today, Buddy Poppies are distributed by Posts of the VFW in every state of the union and in dozens of other countries.  Some 1 million are distributed annually, most of them during the period preceding Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but many of them at other times of the year.

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More than 20 million dollars is raised each year through the distribution of Buddy Poppies – all strictly accounted for and dedicated entirely to veterans’ welfare.
When you drop a donation in a Poppy Canister, you have contributed to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for children of deceased or disabled veterans in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, to the National VFW Rehabilitation Service in Washington, D.C, to the VFW Rehabilitation Service in your own state and to direct assistance programs for needy and disabled veterans in your community and to Lyons Hospital in Basking Ridge.  

The services made possible through your donation are available to ALL needy veterans, not just those who are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Hundreds of thousands of non-members are assisted with disability claims and served in hospitals each year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

How can so little do so much?  The person from whom you receive your Poppy is a volunteer.  His supervisor is a volunteer and the people who helped organize the distribution are volunteers.  Their only pay is the satisfaction that comes from devoting time and effort to a worthy cause. 

However, there is someone who DOES get paid.  The disabled veteran who assembled the Poppy from the original parts receives a nominal sum for his work.  The amount is small, but it does help him to buy the little luxuries which make hospital life tolerable and it does permit him to purchase a gift now and then for his loved ones at home. 

Post #6259 in Berkeley Heights has conducted pizza parties at Lyons Hospital monthly and has provided pizza, soda and gift bags that contain toiletries, T-shirts, hats, socks, towels and blankets and other items to different wards within the hospital.  In addition, in the summer we take disabled vets from the hospital to a Patriots baseball game in Bridgewater.

A “Buddy Poppy” is distributed by volunteer Veterans of Foreign War members (combat veterans). So when you are handed a “Buddy Poppy”, please give generously.  All funds that are collected go directly to the aid of disabled veterans. 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

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