My husband, a Vietnam and Iraq War veteran, is very involved in our local VFW. Last week, he and two fellow veterans went to PNC Park before the Pirates game in hopes of collecting donations for the Buddy Poppy Program. They decided to walk around the parking lots with their poppies and collection cans. They did not approach anyone or ask for donations, just walked around among the people.
A police officer told one of them that they weren’t allowed to solicit donations there. Yet there were ticket scalpers and the usual knock-off paraphernalia vendors all over the place. What’s really sad is that most of the people there had no clue what the Buddy Poppy program is or had never even heard of it.
The Buddy Poppy program began at the end of World War I. Long story short, these little paper flowers are made by disabled and needy veterans who are paid a little to do this. For some of them it’s their only income. The flowers are given away, not sold, in hopes of gaining a contribution. The contributions go directly to aid sick and homeless veterans. No VFW post profits from the money collected. Information about the Buddy Poppy and its origins are available online for those who care to find out more.