Operation Red Nose looking for more volunteers

Free designated driver service is seeking volunteers in Ladysmith, Nanaimo and Lantzville.

With one last weekend of service to go, Operation Red Nose is looking for more volunteers in the Ladysmith area to help provide designated driver services and get people home safely during the holiday season.

Calls for the free designated driver service during the holidays have gone up this year, but the number of volunteers has not, explained Catharine Edwards of PacificSport Vancouver Island, which hosts Operation Red Nose in this area.

“We need lots of volunteers from Ladysmith, Nanaimo and Lantzville,” she said.

Volunteers can put together a team of three people to volunteer for the night, or they can come in as individuals, and PacificSport will match them up with other volunteers, she explained.

Edwards says Saturday nights are busier than Friday nights, and there are many benefits to becoming an Operation Red Nose volunteer.

“It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet people,” she said. “You’ll get hooked once you try it once.”

Operation Red Nose has been running since Nov. 30. In the first three weekends of service, Operation Red Nose provided almost 300 rides in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area and drove more than 6,000 kilometers.During the weekend of Dec. 16, Operation Red Nose provided 62 rides and delivered more than 200 people home safely.

“It’s a busy, busy time,” said Edwards.

Founded in Quebec City in 1984, Operation Red Nose is a program dedicated to preventing impaired driving. Hosted by PacificSport Vancouver Island, Operation Red Nose is currently in its 17th year of successful service.

The Operation Red Nose designated driver service is provided during the holidays to individuals who do not feel fit to drive for whatever reason.

It is a confidential, safe and effective way of getting you, your passengers and your car home at the end of the night by allowing a team of volunteers to do the driving for you.

It is a free service, but donations to PacificSport are gratefully accepted.

“All donations go to support local athletes,” said Edwards.

PacificSport Vancouver Island, which is based in Nanaimo, provides a variety of services and programs for athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers in central and northern Vancouver Island, as well as the Sunshine Coast.

Last year, Nanaimo’s Operation Red Nose volunteers safely delivered more than 1,600 people to their destinations.

Anyone who would like to volunteer with Operation Red Nose needs to fill out a volunteer application form — which can be found online — and a police check, which can be picked up at the Ladysmith RCMP station.

The final dates of service are Dec. 28 and 29 and New Year’s Eve. Call the Operation Red Nose Hotline 250-755-6969 to arrange your ride home between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

For more information about Operation Red Nose, contact co-ordinator Rhonda Irving at nanaimo@operationrednose.com or 250-740-6572.