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Growth of Cambridge Poppy Project has organizers in search of volunteer help

Netting filled with crocheted poppies will be installed at three Idea Exchanges, hospital and cenotaphs next month
Volunteers at the Cambridge Farmers' Market connect hand crocheted poppies to netting that will be draped over the city's three Idea Exchange buildings, displayed at local cenotaphs and hung at the hospital and local legions starting next month. The Cambridge Poppy Project comes on the 100th anniversary of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

Organizers of the Cambridge Poppy Project are putting their year-long efforts on display early in the hope volunteers will come forward to help them complete their goal in advance of Remembrance Day. 

On Saturday morning, volunteers surrounded long tables in front of city hall draped with the netting that hold the poppies, carefully securing the hand-knitted and crocheted flowers to the net with zip ties.

The project, which started out with what was then thought of as “an overwhelming target of 10,000 poppies” last year, quickly grew to a goal of 20,000 poppies by this spring.

So far, project organizers have collected 28,000 poppies sent in from around the world.

“We almost doubled our goal,” said project coordinator Jayne Herring, adding she expects the number of poppies collected to exceed 30,000 by the end of the month.

The excess has organizers looking for other places to display the colourful netting that will be draped over the city’s three Idea Exchange buildings, cover a display panel inside Cambridge Memorial Hospital and drape memorial walls at the cenotaphs in Preston and Hespeler.

They’re also looking for more groups able to volunteer to connect the poppies to the netting.

Adults in Motion, a day program serving Cambridge adults with developmental disabilities, has already signed up to help out, Herring said.

Other groups willing to help can contact Cambridge Poppy Project members through the website.

Volunteers are also welcome to come out to the Cambridge Farmers' Market, weather permitting, for one more event this week.

Herring was inspired to initiate the Cambridge project after seeing a similar display on a trip to Niagara Falls last year.

That project, organized by Niagara Falls Museums and a local stitching guild, is a legacy effort that is expected to grow every year.

Herring says although the Cambridge project is a one-time volunteer effort, the netting will be saved for future displays.

The Cambridge Poppy Project arrives on the 100th anniversary of the poppy's adoption as the official flower of Remembrance by the Great War Veterans Association, which would later become the Royal Canadian Legion.

Each 20-feet of netting holds about 1,000 poppies but the size of each display will vary and include several sections of netting, Herring said.

Final designs have been approved by the Royal Canadian Legion and the installations will start next month.