For the last few weeks, Operation Red Nose has been driving merry Manitobans home safely from their holiday celebrations. But the not-for-profit ride service says call volumes have been lower than usual this year.
“We’ve had fewer ride requests and fewer volunteers than we expected, but it’s been balancing out,” said Operation Red Nose coordinator Sharra Hinton. “So everyone who has called in for a ride, we’ve been able to get home with absolutely no problem at all.”
Hinton said the overall number of calls has dropped significantly compared to last year, especially during the early morning hours, when they expect to be busy.
“It’s been quieter than it used to be after 1 a.m. in past years,” she said. “Last night, we went until about two o’clock, it was pretty steady. And then it trickled off, you know, until three.”
Hinton isn’t sure why demand for the service is down this year, but she does expect this upcoming week to be very busy.
“The closer we get to Christmas it does get busier too. So there are more people out now,” said Hinton.
She said their drive teams visit restaurants and bars early in the evening to remind holiday revelers they can download the Operation Red Nose app or call 204-947-NOSE (6673) for a safe ride home along with their vehicle.
The service is free, but Hinton said they will accept a donations during the ride, or at any other time.
“Our drive teams have been stopped at Tim Hortons when they’re out working to get a cup of coffee. And someone has randomly handed them a $20,” said Hinton.
She said the long-running service is always looking for volunteers.
“We have an online volunteer application that they need to fill out before they come. They submit that to us, we forward it on to the Winnipeg police who does a quick criminal record check for us.”
Hinton said the check is free and usually takes around 24 hours. “And then they’re ready to come and volunteer and join us as a driver.”
Operation Red Nose is available every day until Dec. 31 from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. in 10 Manitoba communities. For more information, go to rednosemb.ca.
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