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Operation Red Nose comes to Burnaby, New Westminster

Burnaby Community Policing volunteers at Metropolis at Metrotown supervise basketball shots made by people wearing
Burnaby Community Policing volunteers at Metropolis at Metrotown supervise basketball shots made by people wearing 'Fatal Vision' goggles that demonstrate the effect of drugs or alcohol on drivers. Operation Red Nose, which gives safe rides home for people who have been drinking, announced it will begin operating in Burnaby and New Westminster this holiday season.
— image credit: Photo contributed

For the first time, Burnaby and New Westminster will be served by Operation Red Nose, to help get people home safely during the holiday season.

A national program founded in 1984 in Quebec, Operation Red Nose is entering its 17th year in B.C. of getting people home when they've had too much to drink.

For years, the program in the Tri-Cities would get calls from Burnaby and New Westminster residents asking for rides home, said Chris Wilson, executive director of KidSport Tri-Cities, which runs the program in that area.

With no Burnaby or New West organizers on the horizon, the Tri-Cities group decided to take it on, said Wilson, who now coordinates the program for the three communities.

They announced the addition of the two cities at a kickoff event last week at Metropolis at Metrotown, one of the new sponsors, organized with help from provincial sponsor ICBC.

With their years of experience, the Tri-Cities group will operate it for now in Burnaby and New West, but over time it hopes to hand it off to the KidSport groups in their respective communities, he said.

Any donations from clients go to charity, usually associated with the volunteers who run the program. In this area, all the money will go to KidSport groups in the Tri-Cities, Burnaby or New Westminster, which help subsidize sports registration fees for families who would otherwise not be able to afford having their kids play sports.

Last year, KidSport Tri-Cities raised about $17,000 in donations through Operation Red Nose, Wilson said, with donations averaging about $26.

But he stressed there is no suggested donation amount.

"The main philosophy of Operation Red Nose is getting people home safely and we try to make sure there's no barriers to anybody in getting home safe. So the emphasis is on getting a safe ride home and not so much on the donation side."

When someone decides they shouldn't drive themselves home from a Christmas party, they call the program to book a ride. A team of three volunteers arrives—two to drive the client home or to their destination in the client's own vehicle, and the third to follow behind in the team's car.

Last year in the Tri-Cities, the program had 140 volunteers, a number it hopes to raise to 250 volunteers to cover the expanded area.

"Most people who call are fairly responsible, they're extremely appreciative that there's these volunteers out there making sure they get home safely," Wilson said, adding the time flies by for volunteers when they're busy.

Operation Red Nose will run Friday and Saturday nights, from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., starting Nov. 30 and then on the four weekends before Christmas (Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22) and New Year's Eve.

Volunteers need to be a minimum of 19 years old, and require a free criminal record check.

For more information on volunteering visit www.operationrednose.com/. To book a ride on one of the operating dates, call 778-866-6673 about a half-hour beforehand.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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