Volunteers are getting ready for another season of Operation Red Nose, providing free transportation during the holidays to make sure everyone has a safe ride home.
The program is kicking off on Friday, November 25th throughout southeastern Manitoba, and will be running every Friday and Saturday until Christmas.
This is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that encourages safe driving during the weekends leading up to Christmas, by offering free rides to people who have consumed alcohol.
“So, if you've been out and you've had a couple drinks, call Operation Red Nose," says St. Malo region coordinator Charmaine Gosselin. "We come to you in our volunteer’s vehicle, two of our volunteers hop in the driver seat and the passenger seat, and we drop you and your car off.”
This program is designed to make sure that everyone can get home safely, and nobody needs to leave their vehicle elsewhere during the night.
She notes that you have to make sure that there is room for two volunteers in your car.
“So, if you're carpooling with a bunch of friends to your destination, make sure that there is room for our driver to drive your vehicle and then on the passenger side.”
Whether you want a ride to your event or want to book a ride home ahead of time, you can call as early as 9pm.
Gosselin says you can call for a ride even if you have not consumed alcohol.
"Maybe they're uncomfortable on the road and it's a little bit slippery, or maybe they're feeling tired, or they prefer to just call our services and have our volunteers drive their car.”
They're thrilled to be offering their services once again since they were unable to give rides for the last two years due to the pandemic.
She points out that this service is extra special to those who live in rural areas.
“It's such a treat for those who don't live in a community that has taxis or public transit. Us rural folks, we’re just so pumped about these services.”
Gosselin says they are offering services in over 20 communities. These communities are all South of Winnipeg in southeastern Manitoba.
In order to provide this service to such a large region, they need a lot of volunteers to pull this off.
“We need 250 volunteers during these next weeks coming up. We're going to need about 20 to 30 volunteers per night.”
There is still time to offer a bit of help with filling shifts. Gosselin says it’s a good idea to recruit a group of friends to volunteer with. The volunteer shift goes from 7:45pm-3am.
"I know that sounds late, but it goes by so fast because it's absolutely a fun time,” she says.
Although the safe-ride services are free, Operation Red Nose accepts donations. All proceeds will go towards the St-Malo Parish Iberville Hall upgrades to help make the hall more accessible.
“The reality is that our community hall is in the church basement, so there's a few stairs to get down there. It'll be a quite costly project and all those donations will go towards that project to the entrance of our hall.”
To get a ride, call 204-347-5518.
To volunteer, call 204-712-6041.
with files from Dave Anthony