Merced poppy sales to raise money for veterans

American Legion Auxiliary District 12, Unit 83, said it will distribute poppies at area retail stores from Monday to May 16, in an annual drive to raise money for disabled veterans.

The poppies are made by hospitalized and disabled veterans. Women of the auxiliary buy the poppies from the veterans, and then collect donations for those veterans while handing the flowers out in front of retail stores in Merced, according to President Ann Kelley.

She said the women will be out from about 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day next week. The drive’s finale is planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 31 during a craft fair at the American Legion Hall, 939 W. Main St.

The area poppy drive drummed up about $1,800 last year. Kelley said she hopes to make at least that much again this year.

The red crepe-paper poppy was officially adopted in 1921 as the memorial flower of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, according to the national website. The poppy has become a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war, and represents the hope that none died in vain.

The national effort distributed about 3.5 million poppies last year, the website said, and raised about $2.1 million nationwide.