EAST BRUNSWICK —  Police are looking for whoever took a bag of poppies and cash from a veteran at the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

As a member of East Brunswick VFW Post 133 was selling poppies around 4:45 p.m. Friday on Ryder Lane at Cranbury Road, someone walked away with three bags of flowers and cash that he had left on the curb, according to police.

The VFW Post said on its Facebook page that the proceeds from poppy sales help homeless veterans get needed services including mental health care, transportation and food.

The East Brunswick PBA Local 145 and 145A each will be donating $500 to the local VFW to support their cause. The state PBA is matching the donations, according to State PBA president Patrick Colligan.

The flower is the symbol of remembrance of the war dead. The Veterans Administration said the symbol of the poppy comes from the 1915 poem Flanders Fields by Col. John McCrae, a surgeon during World War I.

"It expressed McCrae's grief over the 'row on row' of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders' battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France. The poem presented a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses and became a rallying cry to all who fought in the First World War," according to the Veterans Administration. The VFW adopted the flower as its official memorial flower in 1922.

Police asked anyone with information about the incident to call 732-390-6900.

Adam Hochron contributed to this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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