Operation Red Nose needs volunteers in Ladysmith area

Operation Red Nose is looking for volunteers — particularly in the Ladysmith area.

Can you spare some hours this holiday season to drive people home and help keep impaired drivers off Ladysmith’s streets?

If so, then Operation Red Nose is looking for you.

As it launches its 16th year getting people home safely on Friday and Saturday nights around Christmas time, the free designated driver service is looking for more volunteers —  particularly in this area.

Volunteers are asked to be available for a shift from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., and they can work as a driver, escort or navigator or  in phone or dispatch.

“They can do one (shift), some people do five, some people do 10,” said Operation Red Nose co-ordinator Grace Bell. “There’s no minimum.”

Ladysmith residents interested in volunteering will need to do a criminal record check at the Ladysmith RCMP Detachment.

Operation Red Nose, which is hosted by PacificSport Vancouver Island, is a free service in which volunteers drive you home in your own vehicle Friday and Saturday between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Those using the service can donate money for their ride, and the money raised supports local athletes and youth.

Operation Red Nose launched Nov. 25. It operates from Ladysmith in the south to Lantzville in the north, and it runs Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23, 30 and 31.

More than 420 volunteer shifts need to be filled during the Christmas season, and Bell says they require 35 volunteers a night.

Bell sees two values in the service — keeping impaired drivers off the street and raising money for the community.

“I think the best part is it offers a free option to people,” she said.

Last year, Operation Red Nose raised more than $14,000 through ride donations, and Bell hopes to raise even more this year, as they’ve added two nights of service.

She says participation was already up in the first weekend, as Operation Red Nose provided 68 rides Nov. 25 and 26 and drove 1,700 kilometres.

Operation Red Nose volunteers in this region drove more than 1,800 people home last year.

“It’s something we strongly advocate for and support here in Ladysmith,” said Ladysmith RCMP Staff Sgt. Roger Plamondon. “Even if they keep one impaired driver (off the road), it’s a successful community program for sure.”

To volunteer for Operation Red Nose, call 250-755-6969 or e-mail nanaimo@operationrednose.com. Call the hotline at 250-755-6969 for a ride home Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.