Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer guided Santa safely through a foggy Christmas Eve.
Operation Red Nose helps tipsy Yuletide partiers get home safely and it’s actually a lot of fun, says one volunteer.
"You meet so many different and interesting people," said Chris Heide, who plans to volunteer for multiple Red Nose shifts this year. "I look forward to it, it’s a ton of fun."
Operation Red Nose held this year’s official launch at the Keystone Centre on Friday.
The annual program offers revellers a ride home from bars and parties. Three-member teams not only give their client a ride, they drive the client’s car home, too.
The service is free, but donations are accepted which are split between the annual Westman and Area Traditional Christmas Dinner and a local youth organization.
Last year in Brandon, 226 Red Nose volunteers gave 484 rides and raised $5,172.
Operation Red Nose has run in Manitoba for 16 years and the service was introduced to CFB Shilo for the first time this year.
Sponsors include Manitoba Public Insurance and the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.
According to statistics, there’s a need for programs like Operation Red Nose.
It’s estimated that alcohol is involved in one third of all fatal crashes in the province — on average about 41 people are killed on Manitoba roads in alcohol-related collisions each year.
Brandon Police Service Insp. Ian Grant said the force has charged 100 impaired drivers this year.
"Unfortunately, there’s still some people that aren’t getting the message," Grant said.
While the statistics are grim, Heide said volunteering for Red Nose can be a good time.
Heide started volunteering a few years ago, and among the perks is a chance to drive some nice cars and to have some good stories to tell.
"You find yourself in some odd and interesting situations," said Heide, who’s the Brandon branch manager for CAA.
The best vehicle Heide has driven on behalf of its owner — a Cadillac Escalade that cruised so smoothly it seemed to hover.
His favourite clunker was an unidentified model which he had to help push to get started.
Heide said he’s never had any problems with any users of the service — they’re typically grateful and happy-go-lucky.
For example, last year a group of ladies in their early to mid-20s who used the service a few times during one evening made a donation for each trip.
Heide said it was nice to see younger people using the service.
Volunteers are still needed for the Brandon service as the target is 300 for the season and there about 50 signed up. They’re needed for dispatch, driving, navigating and escort driving.
Those who want to volunteer can dial Operation Red Nose at the same number used to call for a ride: 204-728-6673 (NOSE).
The service runs 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 and from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
CAA’s office has volunteer applications, as does customer service at Shoppers Mall and the Operation Red Nose office at the Keystone Centre.