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Poppy wars – Row breaks out over Remembrance Day funds

POPPY WARS: Tamworth RSL Sub-branch president Bob Chapman and secretary Jayne McCarthy want residents to buy poppies from volunteers to help local service personnel. Photo: Gareth Gardner 051114GGB01JUST days out from Remembrance Day a virtual war has broken out over the sale of poppies in northern centres.
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Local RSL members have been shocked to find that a national deal with supermarket giant Woolworths will deliver poppy dollars to the national purse – and leave local volunteers battling big business to get local dollars for local members.

Volunteer poppy sellers will be on the streets across the north for November 11 – but Woolies will also stock poppy products on their shelves.

Tamworth RSL Sub-branch president BobChapman has appealed to locals to buy from their volunteers – because most of that money will remain in the region. Mr Chapman said he’d only found out Woolworths would be selling the merchandise and the money would go to the Defence Care and not directly benefit locals, a few days ago, and only from another member, not officially.

“The poppy merchandise sold in Tamworth by our volunteers benefits ex-service members and local people,” Mr Chapman said.

“It is a great initiative by Woolworths, but we did not know about it.

“It’s our melon patch and national branch should not come in over the top of us.”

At present, the money raised by volunteers stays locally, with the sub-branches only paying state branch for the cost of the merchandise.

“The money goes to the costs of providing welfare and benevolency to serving and ex-service community,” Mr Chapman said.

Armidale RSL Sub-branch treasurer and welfare officer Max Taverner said he was also concerned about the community not benefiting as much from the sales.

“It is annoying because the money we raise here (through our volunteers) is kept within the local confines and it’s usedto assist the pension officersprocessing claims for soldiers with medical disabilities and problems,” he said.

“The more Woolworths sell, the less money we have to run the office.”

Moree sub-branch secretary Theresa Fletcher said she was happy for money to go to state branch, but she had not been informed as to how much of the funding would return to the local community, if at all.

“We have a lot of troops coming back from overseas now andI don’t think a lot of people realise how many ex-servicemen are out there,” she said.

“In three or four years, I think we will see, in the local communities, the effects of lower funding to local branches of the RSL and RSL Women’s Auxiliary.”

However, Inverell RSL Sub-branch secretary Pat McMahon said he didn’t think it would affect them very much at all.

“All that money goes back to state branch for emergency relief accounts and Defence Care,” he said.

“Our ladies always do well … I don’t think it really affects us that much.”

RSL NSW state president Don Rowe said they hoped they would raise more money by partnering with Woolworths.

“While our sub-branch members and volunteers do a great job during our annual appeals raising funds, it was felt that in accepting the Woolworths offer, the appeal would benefit from the longer store hours over the promotional period, this will result in increased sales and visual brand awareness to the general public of the appeal,” he said.

The Poppy Appeal contributes to the fundraising work of the RSL and its welfare arm, DefenceCare.

Poppies will be on sale throughout Tamworth, withvolunteers selling in shopping centres, Bunnings and in the CBD until Remembrance Day, November 11.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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