The Royal Canadian Legion kicked off its annual poppy drive in Sooke with legion president Richard Steele (left), Mayor Maja Tait, T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordie Planes and poppy fund chair Al Stuart in attendance. (Kevin Laird/News Staff)

The Royal Canadian Legion kicked off its annual poppy drive in Sooke with legion president Richard Steele (left), Mayor Maja Tait, T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordie Planes and poppy fund chair Al Stuart in attendance. (Kevin Laird/News Staff)

Sooke Legion credits restaurant, volunteers for keeping doors open through pandemic

‘We’re not making a lot of money, but we’re not losing a lot either,’ says legion president

As Remembrance Day nears, Richard Steele is thankful that he’s able to have a Royal Canadian Legion that’s still open in the first place.

As the Sooke branch president, Steele says one of the legion’s most steady streams of revenue has been its restaurant, Grill 54, which boasts daily specials, including hamburgers on Wednesdays and fish and chips on Fridays.

“We’re not making a lot of money, but we aren’t losing a lot either,” said Steele. “The food service is the biggest draw for the community, and it’s been keeping us afloat. We’ve got some fabulous people in the kitchen.”

Besides the foodservice, Steele said the legion regularly donates to the Sooke Food Bank every two to three months, which helps feed other members in the community too. Amid the pandemic, he misses karaoke on Friday nights.

The legion hasn’t hosted social nights due to the pandemic, and Steele says karaoke night was one of its constant draws that helped balance out the expenses.

Steele says this year’s poppy fundraising efforts will be a little different.

Typically, taggers have the box attached to a rope around their necks, but instead, it will be on a tray, and they will pick up their poppy with tongs and hand them to people when they donate.

He’s got his concerns of volunteers potentially exposing themselves to COVID while out at local liquor and grocery stores but says they still have to sort out their expected shifts and number of volunteers at one time. Overall, he says they are expecting fewer volunteers overall.

Some legions will be piloting electronic donation boxes across the country, allowing people to donate and receive a poppy with tap and pay technology.

In addition to the poppy, the national legion branch is selling non-medical masks online. Close to $20 million is donated during the national poppy campaign each year and goes directly into supporting veterans. For more details, visit poppystore.ca.

The legion is Canada’s largest veteran support and community service organization, operating as a non-profit.

Although Sooke has a sizable senior population, Steele thinks seniors have been “overlooked for a long time.” He’s glad to see that the district is moving forward with the new seniors complex on Lot A along Wadams Way but would love the chance to grow and upgrade the legion’s equipment.

He’s considered installing an elevator to move seniors to the building’s second-floor more efficiently. Now, the centre has a single chairlift to assist them to the banquet area and kitchen, but Steele says that’s not efficient when small groups are coming in and out. Without any definite plans in place, he says the seniors will have to deal with the current situation for now.

“The reason why we haven’t shut down is because of the volunteers,” said Steele. “They have a lot of energy, and that’s what makes us successful.”

– with files from Ashley Wadhwani



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Royal Canadian LegionSooke

Just Posted

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
8 old-growth logging protesters arrested in Fairy Creek watershed Friday

A total of 214 people have been arrested as of June 11

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read