INGERSOLL, ONT. -- They help to keep alive the sacrifices of those who served, but there is concern that some legions, forced to close during the pandemic, may not survive.

“It was so sudden, one day you’re open the next day you‘re closed,” said Rob Mabee, who serves as president of Hillcrest Memorial Legion Branch 119 in Ingersoll.

Now his legion is putting out a call for help from the community.

“We’ve been able to keep ahead of the game so far, but another month or two and it could be a different story.”

For this branch, the closure means no revenue from bar sales, banquet hall rentals, auxiliary clubs and a host of other activities.

Bills totalling about $2,200 per month to maintain the legion building on Thames Street North in the town still have to be paid, and that’s why the branch has launched a GoFundMe campaign.

Vice President Mike Kelly said the legion is hoping to raise $10,000 in online donations. Anything extra would go directly to veterans.

“The veterans fund is something that we as individual legions can’t touch, it’s for veterans, for Parkwood, for fishing days for them- it’s all their money.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic some legions were already struggling. There is concern that as more fade away, so too will our remembrance of those who served, and those who paid the ultimate price.

“A lot of their property is given to other legions that want it, and then the rest of it’s auctioned off,” said Kelly. “So like it’s history of the war and the veterans is gone.”

Earlier this month the Dominion Command Centre released $3 million to help struggling legions across Canada. The Ingersoll branch saw about $1,200 of that money.

Everything helps, said Mabee, “A lot of other branches in Ontario and in our zone in particular are really hurting financially, and you know...this has to end sooner or later.”