The Poppy Memorial Team, led by WO Renay Groves, 21 EW Regiment gratefully accepted a donation cheque for over $20,000 at Fort Henry parade square, Kingston Garrison.
The official cheque presentation was made by Kerri Tadeu, close friend of fallen soldier Major Michelle Mendes. In July, 2014 Tadeu hosted the first Poppy Memorial Outreach Program Fundraiser in memory of Mendes, raising $10,050 for the program. By the cheque presentation date another $10,000 was raised.
The primary mission of Grove’s team is to reach out to families of fallen soldiers, providing them the opportunity to reconnect with their deceased loved one by bringing the Poppy Memorial to them.
“The money is going to help us get the Poppy Memorial where it needs to go, to the fallen families. We’ll be able to pay for things like gas, lodging and meals now. It’s a huge help,” said WO Graves, Poppy Team leader.
The team is on a journey that goes beyond actually transporting the Poppy Memorial.
“I want to set my team members on a path for all the right reasons. This isn’t just a journey to get the memorial to the families, but a chance for these soldiers to find their value. They are so giving, and they expect nothing in return. These soldiers are affecting change in people’s lives and making a difference in their country,” said Groves.
Being a member of the Poppy Team is not only an honour, but a privilege.
“When I was choosing people to be on the team I knew what I was looking for. My objective was to give soldiers a purpose that mattered. When the Afghanistan mission ended soldiers were left struggling to focus. The Poppy Team mission has focused them.”
On November 11, 2011 the last Canadian Remembrance Day Ceremony was held at Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in Afghanistan. The former Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Peter MacKay and Lieutenant-General Jonathan Vance were present for this historic event.
The Minister read the names of the fallen and LGen Vance placed a poppy on each of the designated plaques. After the ceremony LGen Vance personally removed each poppy from the monument and placed them in the care of WO Groves.
“The Poppy Memorial came about when I was tasked with bringing home the poppies. I knew it would come to me what had to be done with them, and it did.”
The memorial is a piece of art made of three distinct pieces. The base is a road wheel from a battle-damaged Leopard tank, the intermediate section is made of engine vents and displays the engraved names of all soldiers who fell, and the top is a maple leaf shaped spire. The final addition to the memorial, bronzed poppies representing each soldier, including the late Mendes.
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