The legion in Langford received a donation of about 350 bottles of hand sanitizer from Ultra Liquid Labs. The bottles will be distributed at legion events and through the Langford food bank. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)

Legion in Langford keeps things clean with hand sanitizer donation

Legion aims to draw in new members and volunteers

Members and guests of the Legion in Langford are sure to be greeted with a clean salute after a handsome donation Tuesday (July 14).

Ultra Liquid Labs donated around 350 bottles of hand sanitizer to the Legion, with hopes of donating up to 5,000 bottles throughout Greater Victoria.

“With everything going on in the world, donations [of hand sanitizer] to places like the Legion, who are so involved with the community, or to food banks is a necessity, because then it is reaching as many people as possible, and is also getting to people who may not have the means to buy things like hand sanitizer,” said Chris Mathison, operations manager at Ultra Liquid Labs.

“We also want to get the word out about our product. This is a product that hasn’t generally been made in Canada, so we want to make sure people know it can be made here, and it can help protect the citizens around the Island and throughout the country.”

The Legion in Langford has been trying to provide a secure environment for members and guests to come and socialize amidst the pandemic.

“When you come here and you feel safe,” said Norm Scott, manager of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #91. “You don’t feel like you’re going to be antagonized or challenged or anything, you are in a safe environment.”

ALSO READ: ‘Falling like dominoes’: Pandemic could lead to closure of 10 per cent of Canada’s legions

The hand sanitizer will be distributed through the Legion during weekly activities, as well as through the food bank which is operated out of the same building.

The Legion brings a sense of community to the West Shore in many ways, by giving over $100,000 annually to various community organizations and projects, and providing a space for residents to socialize. However, over the course of the pandemic, Legions across Canada have been struggling to generate revenue and attract new members.

At least 10 per cent of Legions in Canada will be forced to close permanently in the next few months unless there’s financial intervention, the Royal Canadian Legion’s national headquarters fears.

While federal emergency funds are made available for non-profit organizations through either the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) or the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), eligibility criteria for both aid packages restrict most legions from applying for funding.

“Our branch here in Langford is doing OK, but we are suffering because we can’t open the hours that we want to be open, or allow as many people in to the facility as we’d like to be able to,” said Scott. “Before COVID-19, our calendar was completely booked for the whole year, every weekend the hall would be rented out for events, but because of the pandemic that isn’t the case anymore.”

Scott said the Legion in Langford is hoping to draw in members of a younger demographic, and build more awareness about what the Legion offers. They are also looking for volunteers to help with operations.

“We are doing what we can in the essence of trying to run the Legion, and trying to offer our members and our guests the best area that they can to come and socialize and relax,” said Scott. “A big part of our fundraising comes through the poppy fund, but we are not sure what will happen this year with the campaign and that is a big concern for a lot of us.”

Annually, about 1,200 people buy a membership to Branch #91, but Scott says only about 100 to 200 people actively use the facility, so their focus is to gain more participation.

The Legion in Langford offers weekly activities for anyone, such as drop in pool and darts, shuffleboard, meat draws, music bingo, as well as a bar and restaurant.

A membership costs $55 annually. For more information on hours of operation, activities, or how to support the Legion call 250-478-1828.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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