Poppies will be sprouting all over Turlock soon, and not just the type found in gardens. Paper poppies made by disabled veterans and members of the American Legion will be distributed by the American Legion Auxiliary during Poppy Week. For the first time in years, Turlock's American Legion Rex Ish Post #88 will have a Little Miss Poppy to reign over poppy season.
Haley Nance, 11, is the American Legion Post #88 Auxiliary Little Miss Poppy. The 11 year old is the daughter of Stephen Nance, a member of Rex Ish Post and road captain for the post's American Legion Riders.
“When they told me (I was Little Miss Poppy), and my dad explained to me what that was, I was pretty excited,” Haley said.
As Little Miss Poppy, Haley's responsibilities are to “remember our lost, honor our living and support our disabled and families,” according to a press release from the American Legion.
Haley will meet her responsibilities as Little Miss Poppy by participating in the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Week. Beginning on Monday and going through to Saturday, American Legion Auxiliary members will be out in the community raising funds by distributing paper poppies. The flowers are crafted by hospitalized veterans, who are paid a small amount for each flower. The American Legion supplies the raw materials for the flowers, and then buys back the finished product. Making paper poppies is not only a source of income for disabled vets, but also a relaxing activity.
Haley and other members of the junior and senior American Legion Auxiliary will offer the flowers to people outside of local stores during Poppy Week. They do not sell the flowers, but they accept donations. The Auxiliary will be outside of Family Bible Store, Raley's, the U.S. Post Office, Turlock Irrigation District and Village Fresh supermarket from Monday through Saturday. They will be joined by Boy Scouts troop #21 on Saturday.
Poppy Week is the American Legion Auxiliary’s biggest fund raising event of the year. They use donations to fund programs that benefit veterans and their families. ALA members make frequent hospital visits where they orchestrate parties and bingo tournaments and bring books and clothing for the disabled veterans.
This year marks to the first time in recent history that the Rex Ish post #88 has elected a Little Miss Poppy. Gerry Shippee, ALA member, said that she can't remember when Post #88 last had a Miss Poppy, “But it's been a long time,” she said.
As a junior ALA member, Haley has the opportunity to become state Miss Poppy if she earns merit points through community service. For now, Haley is just happy to be part of Poppy Week, and glad that she can honor veterans.
“I feel like I'm being helpful,” Haley said.
Stephen Nance said that he and the entire American Legion Post #88 are proud of his daughter for her volunteer service as Little Miss Poppy.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.