Where have all the flowers gone? Daffodil days called off amid COVID-19 concerns

By Gordon Lambie

Although it was not surprising at a time when the public is being encouraged to limit face-to-face interaction, local Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Maureen Quigg told The Record that it was still hard to hear the news that the annual daffodil campaign will not be going ahead as usual this year.
“It is hugely disappointing,” Quigg said, taking a break from a day full of phone calls to local volunteers who had already started to canvass their friends and neighbours for donations. “We all want to support the cause and the work of the cancer society.”
The member of the organizing committee for the local campaign said that to the best of her knowledge, the fundraiser has never been cancelled for any reason.
“The records I have go back to the mid-90s and we’ve never had to cancel,” she said.
Because the daffodil campaign goes back some 50 years in Quebec, it is hard to say exactly how long the local fundraiser has been employing its fairly unique approach of calling up friends and neighbours to raise funds, rather than just setting up a table at local stores as is done in other parts of the country. The Record was able to find information about daffodil canvassers in the region as far back as 1991, but as sales took place prior to that, there’s no clear sign of when the transition took place.
While canvassing usually means an excellent success rate for the local team, in this case it means having to turn around and inform hundreds of people who have already been reached that, actually, the flowers aren’t coming this year.
“There are other events that might be held later, but not the flower distribution,” Quigg said, noting that the Canadian Cancer Society holds other fundraisers throughout the year, although many of them don’t have the same sort of local presence as the daffodils do.
The offices of the Canadian Cancer Society are closed at the moment, but in a statement on their website, the organization shared that, “in order to put the well-being and safety of people affected by cancer, our clients, event participants, supporters, volunteers and staff first, we are pausing some fundraising activities until after the crisis has passed.”
“There is no doubt this is an unfortunate situation as the Daffodil campaign is a much-anticipated initiative but also a meaningful way for people to show their support for the cancer cause,” the message continues. “CCS continues to need this support, especially in this time of increased health concern when people may be staying closer to home or dealing with feelings of anxiety or isolation.”
Quigg underlined this latter message, pointing out that while people will not be able to purchase daffodils, they can still make donations to the cause, for which they would receive a tax receipt, either online at cancer.ca, or by sending a cheque to the Sherbrooke office, located at 3330 King O, bur.130, Sherbrooke, QC, J1L 1C9
She also said that the community can expect the team to be back out as usual in 2021.
“We look forward to bringing back the campaign next year, stronger than ever.”

Published in the Wednesday, March 18 edition of The Record.

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