January 22, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 62  

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A unique ‘legion’ of history and tradition

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

If you have relatives who are veterans, if you’ve played on a community hockey team or if you’re from a small town, you’ve probably already heard of the Royal Canadian Legion. What you might not realize about the Legion, though, is its underlying ethos of community service and volunteerism.

Though many students know of the Legion, few completely understand what it’s about. “[The Legion] exists to assist veterans and their families, as well as communities and their youth,” says Jamie Hughes, second vice-president of the Byron-Springbank branch in London.

The Legion often serves as a common meeting place for the community and its organizations, too, playing host to such events as stag-and-does, wedding receptions, organizational meetings and even karate sessions.

As for the type of volunteer work that can be done at the Legion, Hughes notes that the possibilities are endless. “Volunteers can do anything,” he says. “It could be as simple as helping serve a Friday lunch or selling tickets for a turkey raffle.” There are also many committees within the Legion, such as sports, membership and the Poppy Fund.

Like many other community-based organizations, the Legion is built on a solid foundation of volunteerism. “I believe in the programs that we sponsor, as do the rest of our volunteers,” Hughes says. “I take enjoyment out of assisting people and take pride in giving back to the community.”

However, unlike other organiziations, the Legion has a unique history and tradition you won’t find elsewhere. “We’re all drawn together for the same purpose — we believe in the previous work of our veterans,” he claims. “The tradition has been carried on since the end of World War I with few changes — the purpose of the Legion is still the same.”

As with any volunteering opportunity, commitment is a consideration. However, Hughes admits that the Legion is willing to work around your schedule: “We don’t hold anyone to a schedule; we let our volunteers work as little or as much as they can. That might mean a commitment of two hours a year or two hours a week.”

The Byron-Springbank branch is the closest Legion to Western’s campus, though branches throughout the city are always looking for volunteers.

Interested parties can contact them by phone at 472-3300 or visit them on the web at www.rclbr533.ca or www.legion.ca



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