Operation Red Nose will only run in the Lower Mainland this year in the Tri-Cities, New Westminster and Burnaby.
And only on New Year’s Eve.
On Monday, coordinator Jackie Weinkam told the Tri-City News that she surveyed her longtime volunteers last month to see if they would be comfortable heading out on the roads for the safe ride home program that typically starts this weekend.
Half said they would lend a hand, while the other half declined their chauffeuring services due to the ongoing pandemic.
As a result, she said, Operation Red Nose will focus its trips on the last night of the year instead, when revellers are out and donations are usually high.
“It’s sad that we can’t come back fully, but we are doing the best we can to support the community and to raise funds for KidSport,” Weinkam said.
In total, the program needs about 35 people — or nine teams made up of drivers, navigators and escort drivers, plus dispatchers — to give lifts to local party-goers on Dec. 31.
Here’s how it works: Teams of three drive to the caller’s location and take the resident home in their own vehicle, while an escort follows behind in another car.
And once in the owner’s vehicle, drivers and navigators are responsible for wiping down the steering wheel, seat belts, console and dash, and everyone inside is masked to adhere to the provincial health orders. As well, Operation Red Nose volunteers must be double vaccinated to participate.
As for the KidSport Tri-Cities donation at the end of the ride — usually between $40 to $50 — Weinkam said contactless payment (credit card) is preferred over cash.
To lend a hand, candidates are asked to fill out a form (available by emailing email@example.com) and have a free criminal record check with Coquitlam or Burnaby RCMP or the New West Police Department; the paperwork valid for three years.
Meanwhile, food and drink donations from restaurants in the Tri-Cities, Burnaby and New Westminster for Operation Red Nose volunteers are welcome on Dec. 31.