Operation Red Nose returns after a hiatus in search of community volunteers

The Prince Albert Lions Club announced on Wednesday that it will once again host Operation Red Nose for an 11e year in Prince Albert.

The program did not operate in 2020 or 2021 due to COVDI-19. Randy Braaten, a member of the Lions Club, said they were delighted to be back.

“Well, we’ve slept a lot over the last two years, so we should be able to do really well this year,” Braaten said at the launch of Operation Red Nose at the Lions Club Room in Prince Albert. “We had a practice run during the Optimist Gala, which allowed us to get home safely. We are trained. »

Operation Red Nose is an annual December campaign to reduce impaired driving. It offers a free volunteer designated driver service to all motorists who have been drinking or who do not feel fit to drive their own vehicle. It offers customers a safe and confidential ride in their own vehicle without driving themselves.

Although the service is free, customers make donations which, under the provisions of the Operation Red Nose program, must be allocated to youth groups or groups that support young people in Prince Albert and the surrounding area.

The Prince Albert Lions Club has selected local elementary schools as recipients of these donations to help with student programming. In 2017, $7,200 was donated to 12 area schools, in 2018 $8,000 and in 2019 $6,600. Funding went directly to schools to provide their own programming.

“I think it’s important, these donations come back to the schools, and the schools really appreciate it,” Braaten said. “It helps with their daily programming and that. If you look at it over the last few years, I think we’ve stopped 300 dangerous drivers off the city roads. I think it’s really important to get out.

In 2017, Operation Red Nose provided 302 rides in Prince Albert to clients who returned home safely. In 2018, 779 customers received 364 rides and in 2019, 313 rides were offered to 673 customers.

Operation Red Nose depends on community volunteers to run a successful campaign to get people home safely in their own vehicles. Volunteers can choose to work one night, a weekend or the whole season.

“We really push for community volunteers,” Braaten said. “In all the other years we’ve had the policing program in Saskatchewan. Polytech and it was a requirement for volunteer hours. Well now that part of the program is run out of Saskatoon, so we’ve lost a bunch of volunteers.

“I know Terry Fleury was going to run it by the students and that to see if they were still willing to volunteer, but in their absence, we really encourage the community to get out there and volunteer.”

The 2022 edition of Operation Red Nose begins Friday, November 26 at 9 p.m. It will take place on November 26 and 27, as well as November 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 30 and 31. The service operates until 2 am, but continues a little later in the evening New Year’s Eve as it is the busiest night of the year for the organization.

“Usually we finish around 2am. I think one year I came home at 6 a.m.,” Braaten said.

Teams of volunteers, made up of an accompanying driver, a designated driver and a navigator ensure the safe return of people and their vehicles. An escort vehicle, provided by city concessionaires, follows and picks up the driver and navigator to take them to the next pickup or return to program headquarters for coffee and food, donated by community businesses. Volunteers do not have to use their own vehicle.

Services extend approximately 10 kilometers outside of Prince Albert in all directions.

Braaten said they often received text messages afterwards thanking them for their service.

Garry Beaudry of the Lions Club wanted to encourage people in the community to volunteer.

“If you could challenge schools to form a team and volunteer for a night, it would be three people. City Police, Fire Department, EMS, RCMP – this is a challenge open to any organization, city council. I would like to assemble a celebrity team made up of our elected officials.

Beaudry explained that in all his years of Operation Red Nose, he couldn’t think of a single person who left unhappy.

John Alexandersen, the volunteer dispatcher who is not a member of the Lions Club, said community donations go a long way towards making Operation Red Nose a success.

“The donations to the program, the car dealerships donating their service vehicles so we don’t have to use our personal vehicle and the escort vehicles, that’s a huge donation,” he said.

Alexandersen said various restaurants such as Tim Hortons, McDonalds and countless other donations to feed volunteers should also be recognized.

“It’s huge for the success of the event,” he said.

“Absolutely none of the patron’s donations can be used for operations, 100% of operations must come from corporate donations or other donations,” he added.

Volunteers and sponsors have already started to return after the break. Co-op, Econo Lumber and Canadian Tire have already given money.

This year, in order not to interfere with the Stepping Stones Shelter, the Coronet Hotel has graciously agreed to provide us with space for a corporate office.

“We think with the Stepping Stone, we don’t want to interfere with their operations,” Braaten explained. “With the comings and goings, we thought it would be really confusing.”

The Lions said the partnership with the hotel was nothing short of excellent.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call 306 763-6673. Volunteers can also email [email protected] or [email protected], or leave a message or text 306-425-7804.

Volunteer registration forms can also be downloaded from https://www.operationnezrouge.com/fr/fiche-volunteers/prince-albert.

Volunteers are required to provide a criminal record check, which will be provided free of charge by the municipal police or RCMP with a letter from Operation Red Nose.

“We will give them the application (or) they can also download the form from the Operation Red Nose website and that is important. With city police, it takes seven to 10 days to process a criminal record check,” Braaten said.

Once the program begins operating, customers can call 306-763-NOSE (6673) to request a pickup.

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