Operation Red Nose: Home safely for hundreds

Friday night, a team of volunteers drove through the streets of Abbotsford and Mission, working until 3 a.m.

Christine Scott

Christine Scott

Friday night, a team of volunteers drove through the streets of Abbotsford and Mission, working until 3 a.m. Tonight they will be back on the roads.

Their mission is to keep people safe.

Operation Red Nose (ORN) Abbotsford Mission is nearing the end of another campaign and, despite having fewer volunteers than past years, has already provided hundreds of people with a safe ride home.

The program provides a designated driver for people who have had too much holiday cheer and wisely decide not to drive.

The free service, which relies on donations, sends two or more ORN volunteers in a car to a caller’s location.

One volunteer drives the client’s car home while the second follows in a separate vehicle.

Finding volunteers to work the late-night shifts is always a challenge. ORN operates from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“We have lower numbers. I guess we’re running at about 80 per cent of the volunteers we had last year,” said Christine Scott, communications co-ordinator for PacificSport Fraser Valley.

ORN is run by PacificSport, the same organization that brought the program to B.C. 16 years ago.

In order to deal with the volume of calls with fewer volunteers, Scott said they often reduce the pick-up teams from three people to two. As a result, they have been able to continue to provide the service.

“We never turn down people. We take calls right until 3 a.m. and if there’s a two-hour wait, we let people know … A  lot of times people are courteous enough to phone back and say they found another way home or have decided to stay where they are,” said Scott.

However, there are times when the team shows up and nobody is there.

“It can be frustrating.”

So far, excluding Thursday night, ORN has provided 405 rides, compared to 459 over the same period last year.

Last year, the local program provided 842 rides, totalling 24,000 kilometres.

The free service began on Nov. 25 and runs on the weekends. This year’s service has only two nights remaining – tonight (Dec. 17) and Dec. 31.

ORN is the annual fundraiser for PacificSport and donations are used to develop and deliver sport programs and services throughout the Fraser Valley.

If you need a safe ride home, call 604-864-4814.

You can also call toll free at 1-877-604-NOSE.

For more information about ORN, visit www.operationrednose.com or call 604-746-0601.

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