Manitoba woman selling poppy-patterned masks to give back to veterans

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba woman is making and selling poppy-patterned masks in order to provide support for the country’s veterans.

Joan Leppik, who comes from a military family, said she was initially making the masks and gifting them to family and friends.

Once demand for the masks began to increase, she decided to start selling them, with all proceeds going to the Royal Canadian Legion.

“Now I have something to do during COVID and my friends get to honour the veterans and the money gets to go to the Poppy Fund,” Leppik said.

“My husband and I also work with homeless veterans in the city and we know for a fact that the Poppy Fund from the Legion helps them out.”

Leppik said part of the reason she wanted to give back is that it’s “heartbreaking” for her to think that poppy sales could be down this year, because people may not be going to Remembrance Day services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MILITARY CONNECTION

Leppik’s connection to the military runs for generations. 

“We’re a really, really big military family,” she said. 

Leppik said her great grandfather, grandfather, father, brother, sister-in-law, and son were all in the military.

“I’ve been military all my life,” she said.

Leppik’s husband retired two years ago from the Air Force, after serving for 35 years. He is also did a tour of Afghanistan, and is now the president of Canadian Veterans Manitoba and Supporters, and is the Manitoba representative for Vets Canada.

THE MASKS

The masks, which are $10, are pleated and cloth, with an elastic ear band and nose wire piece.

Leppik added she can also put a toggle on the back of the masks, which come in four different poppy patterns. 

“To be honest with you I’m not a seamstress or a sewer, but my sister is,” she said.

“She gave me a pattern for a pleated mask…and I brought out my sewing machine and I taught myself how to make them.”

Leppik said the response to the masks has been wonderful. 

She said her daughter put a post on Facebook about the masks, and before the evening was over, she was out of fabric.

“I really would like it if people could go and support the Poppy Fund at their local Legion,” Leppik said.

“Because it really does help the veterans.”

Anyone who is interested in purchasing a mask can email Briannablaire4@gmail.com or message Brianna Blaire on Facebook.

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