A brazen thief made off with a Remembrance Day donation can at the Vernon Recreation Centre Monday.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is, those inside the facility helped rally to match the anticipated donation tally in the can and presented the funds to the Royal Canadian Legion branch Tuesday.
The theft occurred as the Vernon Farmers’ Market held its annual Customer Appreciation Day at the rec centre auditorium. The event ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and was full of people throughout the day.
It’s believed the can was taken while the market paused for a poignant 15-to-20 minute Remembrance Day ceremony where the facility comes to a standstill as poems are read and songs are sung.
“I have no idea how much was in the can that was taken but in past years, it’s been around $200,” said farmers’ market manager Ingrid Baron. “We give a prize away every hour so after the theft, I had the pleasure of telling everybody every hour that our donation can had been stolen. You can’t sell poppies after 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, but if people wanted to make a donation to the Legion, they could.
“The vendors and customers helped replenish it. We set up another donation box, designed it with poppies from another vendor, and we raised $190. I threw in $10 to make it $200.”
For the day, Baron said the market goes to the Legion to give a donation in exchange for a bag of poppies and will sell the poppies for two hours along with taking monetary donations for the Legion.
The can was bolted to a basket and Baron said there was a strapped at the back that was tied to the table leg. It was situated just outside the entrance door to the auditorium.
“Everything was going good. People were buying poppies,” Baron said. “At 10:55 a.m., we stopped for our ceremony. After it was over, I was taking pictures and I noticed the can was gone. I asked one of the vendors what happened to it and he said, ‘I don’t know, it was here three minutes ago.’ Well, it was gone now. Nothing was ripped on the basket, but the table cloth below it was ripped.”