Rudy the reindeer is the Operation Red Nose mascot. (Contributed)

Rudy the reindeer is the Operation Red Nose mascot. (Contributed)

Biggest night left for Operation Red Nose

New Years Eve busiest in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows for group offering safe rides home

So far this year, Operation Red Nose has helped more than 500 people get home safely, and the volunteer ride service still has its busiest day to come – New Year’s Eve.

Dec. 31 will be the last night for operation, with the phones opening at 9 p.m. and staying open until 3 a.m.. The volunteer drivers still taking people home until breakfast time on Jan. 1, 2019.

It has been a busy year so far.

“It has been good – we have had a lot of people calling,” said ORN Ridge Meadows volunteer coordinator Kate Doucette, noting the program is now in its 11th year in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, and the public is aware of it.

“People are using it, and people have been very generous with donating – especially when they find out it goes to KidSport.”

KidSport Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows provides financial sponsorship for local children who want to play sport, but who cannot afford to join. Donations are encouraged, but not mandatory. Kidsport has been operating in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows since 2009, and has helped more than 1,000 children pay for sporting activities.

Doucette noted there have been more than 30 volunteer drivers for each of the past two Saturdays meaning there have been eight or nine teams offering people who have been driving a safe ride home for for them and their passengers, while a volunteer driver takes their vehicle home.

“We drive you and your car home, once your party is over,” said Doucette.

“We all work together to make sure everyone in our community gets home safe.”

The usage of ORN has grown each weekend, as drivers have offered rides on Friday and Saturday nights through December, with 97 people given rides the first weekend, 104 on the Dec. 8 weekend, 143 on Dec. 15 and then 188 last weekend.

“They were kept hopping all night long,” she said of Saturday’s volunteers.

ORN will not be running this Friday and Saturday, saving their volunteers for a busy night on Monday as revellers ring in 2019. Typically, said Doucette, the volunteers are driving all night, until 6 a.m. the next day.

“We try to get all the rides cleared before anyone goes home,” said Doucette.

People who want to volunteer on New Years Eve might still be able to pass the screening. They must download a form on the kidsportscanada.ca website, and get a criminal record check to the RCMP early Thursday.

To donate to Operation Red Nose, contact Nicky Tu at 604-767-5913 or Ridge-meadows@operationrednose.com. Contact Doucette 604-727-7611 for more information.

Call 604-515-NOSE (6673) for a ride, and try to call at least 90 minutes before you plan to leave your event.

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