Royal Canadian Legion branches are launching their services in order to help veterans during the coronavirus pandemic, even when the national organization warns that financial pressures might cause the shut down of some branches.

The national veterans and community service group’s head has said that in spite of the closure of most branches, volunteers still prepare hot meals, deliver groceries and provide online social links to fighting veterans.

Dominion President Thomas Irvine said the attempts come when legion branches are under considerable financial pressures due to the coronavirus pandemic, with their major sources of income, including in-house restaurants and bars and hosted events, cutting off. Legion members are united across the country to do what is best for the veterans in their communities.

However, with 1,350 branches that essentially operate as autonomous small businesses, Irvine added that they are feeling the strain of mounting bills and lost income when they continue their work. Many branches are accepting donations or dipping into their poppy funds in order to continue work in their communities. Moreover, they are being advised to investigate deferring bill payments to suppliers or utilities in order to look to provincial governments for support.

According to Irvine, the branches are central in most small towns and in one to two months from now, they might be closed since they had no income. Meanwhile, volunteers at the branches are still trying to find ways to help isolated veterans, many of whom have health problems that make them susceptible to the virus.

Legion president Toni McKelvie of Fonthill, Ont., said that she and a small volunteers group have started cooking meals for veteran members and seniors in their community.

Up to now, they have cooked more than 700 dinners and arranged drop-offs in order to encourage social distancing and keep people safe.