From difficulty finding volunteers to arctic, snowy weather transforming some roads into ice rinks, it’s been a challenging season for Operation Red Nose Langley-Surrey.
This past wintery Friday evening, volunteers came through in a very big way for the designated driver service, which offers safe rides home to revelers in their own cars in exchange for donations
“Friday presented some challenges, weather wise, and I think a great many of the public stayed home but, for the most part Surrey and Langley (road crews) did a good job on the roads keeping them driveable,” ORN Langley-Surrey coordinator Mike Biggin said.
“We had 11 driving teams both nights (over the weekend) providing a total of 125 safe drives home — 52 Friday and 73 Saturday.”
This wasn’t the case on Dec. 2, when ORN Langley-Surrey had to cancel its service because not enough people volunteered to do the driving.
“Just a reminder that we are unfortunately NOT running our service tonight due to the low volume of volunteers we had for the night,” read a message on the group’s Facebook page that day.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage everyone who needs a ride tonight to contact an alternate designated driver service. We are still planning on running the rest of the campaign nights: December 9/10/16/17/31. Have a safe night, everyone!”
An earlier post to the program’s Facebook page elaborated on the subject:
“Unfortunately, we only had enough volunteers to put together 2 driving teams, which does not meet our minimum requirement of 8 teams! The volunteer sign up seems to be doing well enough for the remaining nights though, and we remain optimistic that the rest of the campaign will be successful.”
Biggin said cancelling the service was “discouraging.”
“It was just a rare night,” Biggin said. “It was just bizarre that there was only two teams (of volunteers) and only three office staff. It was like there was a little black hole, there.”
Next Friday and Saturday has 10 teams each night.
“We have room for up to 15 teams,” Biggin said.
For service, call 604-532-0888. The program works like this: 30 to 45 minutes before you need a ride, and a volunteer team of three ORN volunteers adorned in red vests, will be dispatched to your location.
Two volunteers (a designated driver and navigator) drive people home in their own car, while a third volunteer (escort driver) will follow behind in the team’s escort vehicle. When the team arrives at each drop-off location, they will reunite and continue on to their next assignment
Pre-bookings for rides are not available.
After this weekend, the service runs for three more days: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 and 17, and on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. each night.
Volunteers are needed to make each night run as smoothly as possible.
To volunteer, click HERE.
Biggin said New Year’s Eve is historically the busiest night of the year for ORN, so more helpers on board Dec. 31, the better.
Donations collected through Operation Red Nose Langley-Surrey go back into the designated driver program, as well as to LGF.
All Lower Mainland communities, with the exception of Vancouver, are covered by Operation Red Nose.
Those requiring a ride pick up from a Langley/Surrey destination, can call the ORN number and get a ride to their destination in Langley and Surrey, or, if they are from a different community, they will be transferred to an alternate Operation Red Nose branch to get the rest of the way home.
Biggin said the ORN program is very important. “It’s a huge community service. Anything can do to make the roads safer and help out the RCMP and make their life easier, it’s an important thing to do for them. It should be a happy time of year for everybody and not marred with tragedy.”