Operation Red Nose heads into 20th season in Prince George

Operation Red Nose volunteers officially kick off the 2017 campaign on the steps of City Hall Tuesday. Bill Phillips photo
Operation Red Nose volunteers officially kick off the 2017 campaign on the steps of City Hall Tuesday. Bill Phillips photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

They’ve been driving people home for the last 19 Christmas seasons in Prince George.

Operation Red Nose is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the city and on Tuesday, officially kicked off the 2017 campaign.

“Our campaign will get underway on December 1 when we begin to offer safe rides homes during the holiday season,” Karen Toombs, chair of the Operation Red Nose. “This is a pretty special year as it our 20th anniversary for Operation Red Nose in Prince George. Two decades, that’s pretty awesome.”

Operation Red Nose would not be possible without the support of their volunteers and partners the Rotary Club of Prince George Nechako, ICBC, and the Prince George RCMP. The honourary chair this year is Coun. Susan Scott.

“Thank you everyone for supporting this incredible campaign,” said Scott. “Every year, I guarantee you, this service saves lives. I’ve been a driver, I’ve been a guide, I can tell you this is an amazing service.”

She urged people to volunteer for Operation Red Nose. Currently they have about 165 volunteers and will need about 300 for the season.

“Get behind this campaign and make this a safe year in our city,” Scott said.

The free, seasonal service allows party-goers to not only get themselves home safely, but their vehicles too. The service is available on nine nights during the holiday season to those who do not feel fit to drive.

The safe ride home service is free and any donations Operation Red Nose does receive from clients stays in Prince George and goes directly to local youth and amateur sport organizations.

On average, about 15 volunteer road teams of three will be on call each night of service, working from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. This year Operation Red Nose will be in service December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 29-31, which is New Year’s Eve.

Volunteers must be at least 19 years old and have a valid driver’s licence. They can be part of a road team of three or work behind the scenes answering phones at Operation Red Nose headquarters.

Applications, which include a criminal record check, are available online at www.ornpg.ca.

Volunteers can simply fill it out, print it out, and take it, along with their driver’s licence, to the RCMP’s main detachment on Victoria Street.

To help celebrate Operation Red Nose’s 20th anniversary, an open house will be held at ICBC on November 24 from 7-9 p.m.

Everyone, even if you’re not volunteering, is welcome to stop by and get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes at Operation Red Nose.

In 2016, 872 safe rides home in 10 nights were delivered. In 2015, 1059 safe rides home in nine nights were delivered, which ranked Prince George second overall out of 13 communities in B.C.