Poppy Girl program begins Memorial Day distribution in Freeland

Veterans were honored at the Maple Ridge Assisted Living Community on Thursday, May 8, with the first distribution of poppies this year by the Poppy Girls.

Veterans were honored at the Maple Ridge Assisted Living Community on Thursday, May 8, with the first distribution of poppies this year by the Poppy Girls.

Members from the American Legion Auxiliary Post 141 were in attendance to hand out the symbol along with one of the two Poppy Girls, Krista Drechsel, who was chosen by the auxiliary. This was the program’s first event before Memorial Day.

The poppy is a symbol of freedom that has been used since the end of WWI by the American Legion Auxiliary. The symbol was inspired by a poem called “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Col. John McCrae in 1915.

Drechsel recited the poem “In Flanders Fields” to a small group of veterans and handed out poppies to everyone in the room. In the program, the girls meet the public and hand out poppies to support veterans.

Drechsel, 16, has been a Poppy Girl since she was six and now attends South Whidbey Academy and South Whidbey High School. She initially joined the program because she liked volunteering and has kept going ever since. She enjoys meeting the public and hearing from veterans around the South End.

The younger poppy girl is Emma Leggett, a seventh grade student at Langley Middle School. Leggett has also held the position before and enjoys meeting people and receiving donations for the poppy program.

For Drechsel, Memorial Day is a great holiday to remember what America stands for.

“It’s not just a day off from school,” she said.

Drechsel said she is looking forward to seeing everyone wear poppies and remembering veterans, both living and deceased.

Drechsel hopes to learn from this program and travel after high school. She is interested in joining the Peace Corps and learning new languages

Already she’s learned communication is key to expanding the world and learning what people can do for each other, she said.

The poppies are made by veterans around the nation and sold to local auxiliary chapters to be distributed around the community for Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and other patriotic holidays.

Donations received from the poppies go back to the veterans through programs for retirement, services and families, said Libby McCauley, American Legion Post 141 Auxiliary Re-Hab Chairman.

Last year the auxiliary distributed 3,000 poppies around the South End and raised $1,700 for the programs, which was the most raised by the group so far.

“The poppies make a full circle; made by Vets and donations back to Vets,” McCauley said.

During the event she thanked everyone for their service.

“You really were the best generation,” McCauley said.

Jim Knott, president and commander of the American Legion Post 141 South Whidbey, said he’s looking forward to meeting veterans this Memorial Day.

“It’s always fun to do this,” he said.


Grab your poppy

The girls will hand out poppies next weekend at both ferry docks. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 17 they will be on the Mukilteo Ferry side and on Sunday, May 18 on the Clinton side at the same time. The poppies will also be available at several South End stores such as the Bayview Goose Community Grocer, Payless Foods and Ken’s Korner Red Apple Grocery.