Members of the organizing committee and representatives of the groups supporting the poppy project gathered to witness the result of so much hard work. Front row, from left: Vince Zandbelt, Winchester Downtown Committee, Steven Grubb, Chesterville Legion, Shawn Doolan, Winchester Legion, Jordan Hodge, Chesterville Lions. Back row, from left: Linda Thompson, Winchester Downtown Committee, Jo-Anne Page-Cote, Finch Wild and Woolies, Thea Chouinard, Chesterville Gathering Stitchers, and Beate Stewart, Rotary Club.  Tinkess Photo

NORTH DUNDAS – If someone were to tell you that you had to crochet 10,000 poppies as part of a Remembrance Day project, well, you might be a bit reluctant to take on such a task. That’s a lot of crocheting!

But if someone simply asked you if you wanted to be a part of a multi-community project that would not only show respect for current and recent members of our military but also scream out “We remember” in recognition of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It might be hard to refuse.

Vince Zandbelt is a member of the Winchester Downtown Revitalization committee and one of the organizers of the poppy display project, although he gives credit to local MP Eric Duncan for getting the ball rolling.

“Eric saw a display like this in Kemptville and found out a bit about it and passed it along to us,” says Zandbelt. “We thought it was a great idea and started approaching local service clubs, who were only too happy to come on board and share the cost between them.”

The participating North Dundas service groups who agreed to share the material costs are the Chesterville Legion, the Winchester Legion, the Chesterville Lions, the Winchester Lions, the Chesterville Rotary, and the Winchester Downtown Committee.

The poppies themselves were crocheted by several SDG residents along with two crocheting groups, “The Chesterville Gathering Stitchers” and “The Wild and Woolies,” from Finch.

How many poppies can one person crochet? That varies from person to person, but Linda Thompson created 3,000, while another lady who is 92 chipped in as well.

Linda Thompson says that she enjoyed the crocheting, and that it was a good pastime that she could do while watching TV. “At first I realized how many I was doing, but then, once I got going, if I didn’t get 20 done in an evening, I’d think there was something wrong.”

Jo-Anne Page-Cote of the Finch “Wild and Woolies,” says she kind of snuck into the process. “Well, I found out kind of in the back door because it wasn’t supposed to be on Facebook,” said Page-Cote. “Somebody was saying they were looking for volunteers to make poppies, and I thought, our group will do that. And then I found out you weren’t supposed to tell anybody. That’s how we ended up getting into it. We were busy with other things at the same time, but we tried to do as much as we could. We enjoyed it.”

Thea Chouinard is with the Chesterville Gathering Stitchers, who meet at the Gathering House, across the street from the Rotary Clock in Chesterville. “I had about 24 people involved, and we made around 2,450 poppies,” says Chouinard. “It was amazing. People wanted to have more and more wool. So, I had a lot of people also use their own wool. It was a fun project. And my girls are eager to do more.”

The poppies are attached to a camouflage background, which makes it easy to erect the display and to dismantle it when things are wrapping up till next year. Of the 10,000 poppies created, only about half are being used, so the thought is, going forward, to have others create more poppies, and combined with what is already on hand, they will be able to expand to some other parts of the county like Morewood, South Mountain, Inkerman, or Ormond, to name just a few locations.

Whether you create hundreds of poppies or only a couple, if you think of it as a way to show you remember, then it will certainly be an activity you will never forget.