Surrey/Langley area won’t have Operation Red Nose service this holiday season

Canada-wide safe-ride program looks for a new non-profit operator for next year

SURREY — Operation Red Nose, the by-donation driving service that aims to rid Canadian streets of impaired drivers during the holiday season, won’t be operating in the Surrey/Langley area this year.

“The previous organization is no longer able to deliver it, so there is an opening for a new non-profit to run it for next year,” Chris Wilson, provincial spokesperson for Operation Red Nose, told the Now-Leader in an email.

As a fundraiser, the driving service is delivered by local non-profit organizations tasked with finding enough volunteers to do the driving.

In Surrey and Langley, Operation Red Nose has been operated by Langley Gymnastics Foundation for more than a decade.

Last year at this time, service organizers with the gymnastics club were desperate to find more volunteer drivers.

“We have and need 300 volunteers usually,” Melissa Coombes, spokesperson for the local chapter, told the Now in November of 2016. “Those volunteers will often sign up for more than one night. We essentially need 100 of them each night, but right now we’re not even close. Not even half that.”

Coombes no longer works as gym manager at Langley Gymnastics, a receptionist for the organization said Tuesday.

Wilson runs the Operation Red Nose program in the New Westminster, Burnaby and Tri-Cities area. There, donations for the driving service benefit the KidSport organization in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam.

“We’ll be trying our best to service clients that need to either go from our area into Surrey and Langley or vice versa,” Wilson noted.

“We realize this is not the ideal situation and are very hopeful that another organization will see this as an opportunity to take on a great community project that’s also a fundraiser for their organization for next year.”

Details about becoming a host organization can be found online at operationrednose.com.

The organization’s 34th annual campaign was launched in Maple Ridge on Nov. 9, in partnership with ICBC.

• READ MORE: Operation Red Nose Ridge Meadows celebrates 10 years, from Nov. 14.

More than 55,000 volunteers are getting ready to take part in what’s called “Canada’s largest safe-ride-home service,” according to a media advisory.

On nine nights from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31, Operation Red Nose will be available in 101 Canadian communities, 11 of which are located in British Columbia. Communities covered include Abbotsford/Mission, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Delta/Richmond, Kamloops, New Westminster, North Vancouver/West Vancouver, Prince George, Ridge Meadows, Tri-Cities and Williams Lake.

• READ MORE: Volunteer drivers sought for Operation Red Nose in Surrey-Langley, from November 2016.

Since it came to B.C. in 1996, “the program has grown from two host groups to 11, serving 19 communities and providing over 94,100 safe rides home,” according to a post at icbc.com.

“In 2016, 3,747 dedicated volunteers across 12 B.C. communities gave 5,448 rides to get people and their vehicles home safely while raising $150,674 for their local charities,” says the post.

• READ MORE: Operation Red Nose Langley-Surrey helpers come through on snowy New Year’s Eve, from January 2017.

The program is named in honour of Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all.”

“On most Friday and Saturday nights during the holiday season, if you’ve been drinking or are too tired to drive home, call 1-877-604-NOSE or on the mobile app and a team of three Operation Red Nose volunteers will help you get home safely,” says the post on ICBC’s website.

“One volunteer will drive your vehicle, a second volunteer will navigate, and a third volunteer will follow in an escort vehicle to pick up the two volunteers once they drop you off. Donations to Operation Red Nose are gratefully accepted and help fund local youth sports and other not-for-profit organizations.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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