Long, long ago, during a particularly bad Christmas Eve snow storm, Santa Claus was struck with the ingenious idea of using his most peculiar, and now most famous, reindeer for navigation assistance.
“Rudolph, with your red nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh home tonight,” Santa Claus asked one fateful night, and the rest—as they say—is history.
Now a group of dedicated Chilliwack volunteers are following Santa and Rudolph’s lead by running Operation Red Nose (ORN), an annual fundraising campaign that drives home the message to not drive if you’ve been drinking.
ORN “gets you and your car home (safely),” said Ken Smith, volunteer director for the non-profit organization in Chilliwack, which is hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Sardis.
“It’s not like taking a taxi home where you have to go back in the morning and pick up the pieces of your car” for the cost of a donation amount of your choosing.
“Last year we raised more than $10,000 in donations … and it was all put into youth programs in Chilliwack,” Smith explained.
“We support a broad spectrum of programs,” he continued. “We have Super Reader in the elementary schools, bursaries in the secondary schools, and various sports teams that we support. And (we also host) a Christmas party for disadvantaged kids.”
So in the case of ORN, more drivers means more dollars: last year the Chilliwack team gave a total of 581 rides over the course of the 11 holiday days. “But this year only has nine days,” said Smith. So the more volunteers they can get means the more rides they can give.
“Right now we have about 115 volunteers, which is about equal to last year, but down slightly from previous years: 150 … is our usual number. But people can keep applying throughout the season for one night or (all of the) nights.”
Kicking off its holiday season on Friday, Nov. 30, ORN operates Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. All you need to do is dial 604-393-3000, and a team of volunteers will be dispatched to your location to get you and your vehicle home safely.
“A team of three goes out in an escort vehicle and picks up the client,” explained Smith. Then a driver and navigator will chauffeur the client home in their own vehicle while the escort ride follows behind to deliver the team to their next destination.
“On a busy night, they’ll finish one ride and already have one waiting … so we would like to have more volunteers, especially for New Years Eve, which is always the craziest busiest night.”
To volunteer for Operation Red Nose and help raise money for youth programs city-wide, Smith says you can either download the application package off of their website at OperationRedNose.com, or pick one up in person at the RCMP Detachment at 45924 Airport Rd.
“First time volunteers need a police information check, but it’s included in the application package. It’s done very quickly and is no charge for the volunteer,” he added.