Help­ing hands Op­er­a­tion Red Nose seek­ing vol­un­teers

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - Chris­tine HINZMANN Ci­ti­zen staff chinz­mann@pgc­i­t­i­zen.ca

Rudy, the reindeer mas­cot for Op­er­a­tion Red Nose, has got his vol­un­teer pres­sure ris­ing, head­ing into the 20th sea­son of the Christ­mas des­ig­nated driver cam­paign. “It’s sit­ting at 165 over 74 right now and we need that to rise,” lead or­ga­nizer Karen Toombs of the Prince Ge­orge Nechako Ro­tary Club said. There are 165 vol­un­teers signed up with 74 crim­i­nal record checks done, Toombs ex­plained.

Ul­ti­mately the des­ig­nated driver ser­vice, which pro­vides party-go­ers a safe ride home for them­selves and their ve­hi­cles, needs about 300 vol­un­teers to not only drive the ve­hi­cles, but also to nav­i­gate and an­swer phones as re­quests for rides come into head­quar­ters.

There’s also a need for handy peo­ple who can set up ra­dios in ve­hi­cles that are con­nected to the dis­patch of­fice and there are even spots avail­able for those who just want to get cof­fee for the dis­patch­ers or pro­vide a pot of chili to hun­gry vol­un­teers who spend hours on the road dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

The rea­son so many vol­un­teers are needed is that many vol­un­teers will vol­un­teer one night dur­ing the sea­son that sees a typ­i­cal evening’s work from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., Dec. 1 and 2, Dec. 8 and 9, Dec. 15 and 16, and Dec. 29, 30 and New Year’s Eve, with rides start­ing at 9 p.m.

“That could leave peo­ple re­ally tired, es­pe­cially the New Year’s Eve shift that could go as late at 5:30 in the morn­ing,” Toombs said. “We do have a hard­core group that comes out for all nine nights.”

Dur­ing the an­nounce­ment Tues­day to put the call out for more vol­un­teers and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the ser­vice, in at­ten­dance were Mayor Lyn Hall and city coun­cilors Terri McCon­nachie and Su­san Scott, this year’s am­bas­sador for Op­er­a­tion Red Nose Prince Ge­orge.

“This is a hugely im­por­tant ser­vice to the com­mu­nity be­cause it gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to go out and en­joy their evening and we’re all try­ing to make sure peo­ple don’t drink and drive,” Hall said.

“Peo­ple can use Op­er­a­tion Red Nose to get home from a party and not have to worry about how they’re go­ing to get home after­wards. And be­cause this is a fundraiser for the Ne­cako Ro­tary Club, it gives them an op­por­tu­nity to do things to bet­ter the com­mu­nity.”

To cel­e­brate the 20th an­niver­sary of Op­er­a­tion Red Nose in Prince Ge­orge, an open house is planned for ICBC head­ques­rters be­tween 7 and 9 p.m. on Nov. 24.

Vol­un­teers must be at least 19 years old and have a valid driver’s li­cense.

In 2016, there were 872 safe rides home pro­vided in 10 nights in Prince Ge­orge.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call 250-961-6465 or visit www.ornpg.ca.

Ul­ti­mately the des­ig­nated driver ser­vice, which pro­vides party-go­ers a safe ride home for them­selves and their ve­hi­cles, needs about 300 vol­un­teers...

CI­TI­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

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