Tri-City residents looking for ways to get home from their Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties this year can call Operation Red Nose for a lift.
The safe–ride home program will return to the road in 2021 after missing last year’s fundraising campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But how the chauffeuring program will roll out during the health crisis this fall and winter is still up in the air given the fluctuating infection rates.
“It’ll depend on what happens with the provincial health orders,” cautioned Chris Wilson, a Coquitlam city councillor and the B.C. spokesperson for Operation Red Nose. “We don’t know what we’re able to offer until we get closer to the dates.”
Due to run in the Tri-Cities, New Westminster, Burnaby and Kamloops from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31, Operation Red Nose sees volunteer drivers and navigators pick-up holiday revellers at their party destinations and escort them home in their own vehicles; another driver follows behind to transport the volunteers to their next ride.
And although Operation Red Nose was cancelled in 2020, Wilson said the non-profit group that it supports fared well despite the program’s pause.
KidSport Tri-Cities, of which Wilson is also the executive director, was “very lucky through the pandemic because, unlike most charities, our demand didn’t go up. In fact, it went down because there were a lot fewer sports happening.”
Operation Red Nose collects about $20,000 a year for KidSport Tri-Cities, which offers grants to families in need to pay for registration fees.
Still, despite the loss of the safe–ride home program and biannual equipment sales in 2020, Wilson and volunteers kept cash coming in for KidSport.
The bicycle franchise Trek sent its kids’ trade-in bikes from its Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and Burnaby stores to Wilson to repair and resell.
“I’ve been pushing bikes out of my garage for 15 months,” Wilson said, “but it’s managed to keep us afloat…. It’s been a lot of work, but it makes sure that kids are able to get out into our community and play the sport that they love.”
As for Operation Red Nose, the national executive director, Anne-Marie Audet, stated in a news release, “Operation Red Nose shows its determination and great capacity to adapt to new situations. We are happy to see that the local organizations who will take part this year are enthusiastic and ready to make the campaign a successful one, once again.”