Every May millions of red crepe paper poppies are distributed throughout the United States as a symbol of the sacrifice of service made by veterans.
This year, as every year for 64 years, the American Legion and its auxiliary of Neptune Post 346 are participating in the program.
The American Legion Auxiliary Poppy program began in 1921 and “Poppy Days” are a familiar tradition in almost every American community, said Doreen Gallagher, past unit president and past county president of American Legion Auxiliary United 346 in Neptune.
“The distribution of the bright red memorial flower to the public is one of the oldest and most widely recognized programs of the Auxiliary. The purpose of the poppy is to elevate community awareness and respect for our veterans by educating our membership and the public about the poppy’s significance and the financial benefit realized by our nation’s veterans as a result of it’s distribution,” according to the Auxiliary.
Gallagher said her unit, which distributes poppies during the month of May at various locations, has been involved in the program for 64 years.
“Poppies can be distributed year-round but in New Jersey we do it in May. We go to various stores such as Perkins in Neptune, Shoprite in Wall, and WaWa in Neptune. We have all different locations and times throughout the month,” she said. “All of the funds go directly back to the veterans and also to those on active duty. Donation amounts are really whatever someone wants to give. We donate significant amounts to various projects. We do so many different projects throughout the funds of the poppy program. It’s an intimate part of our organization. It is beneficial to veterans and their families,” she added.
Gallagher, who is department second vice president, said 15 to 20 individuals help with the local distribution.
“We have various members who go out between the Auxiliary, the Legion and SAL (Sons of American Legion) ” she added. “Poppies can be worn on lapels, on hats and some people put them inside their car on the dashboard.”
In other Auxiliary news, Unit 346 will hold a spring flea market on Saturday, May 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the post’s parking lot, 21 Gully Road, Neptune.
Gallagher said there are typically 15 to 20 vendors with different items for sale. The event is open to the public and the cost of the space is $15 and an additional $5 for a table. There will be a snack bar for food to purchase. For more information contact Margie Magathan at 732-922-1454.
There will be a regular auxiliary meeting on Thurs., May 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Neptune post. An induction ceremony will take place to welcome all new members
“We have a short ceremony and present them with their American flag pin. We have about five to 10 new members joining us,” Gallagher said.
On Monday, May 26, there will be a Memorial Day Service at 9 a.m. outside the Neptune post, 21 Gully Rd. The public and all members are invited to attend the service.
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