Even if last week’s winter-like weather hasn’t prompted Lethbridge citizens to start thinking about Christmas, there’s a local holiday season tradition that is already gearing up.
It’s called Operation Red Nose, and for 20 years University of Lethbridge Pronghorn Athletics and its army of volunteers have helped make the Christmas season a safer one for partygoers.
The designated-driver service will launch its new season Nov. 28, operating on weekends between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. to provide safe transportation for people who have imbibed during holiday-season parties. The service is free, though donations are welcomed, with all money going to help fund Pronghorn Athletics.
The program has been an important fundraiser for the U of L’s athletic programs, raising more than $556,000 over the past 19 years. Last year, the service provided 1,254 rides, thanks to the efforts of more than 640 volunteers. A number of the volunteers are members of the Pronghorn athletic programs, but many, too, come from the community at large — citizens who are motivated either to support U of L athletes, or to do a good deed for their community, or both.
And it certainly is a good deed for the community. The drive-home service helps make the community a little safer during the holiday season by ensuring that the hundreds of partiers it assists aren’t tempted to get behind the wheel and drive themselves home after an evening involving alcoholic refreshments.
The value of that shouldn’t be undervalued. It not only benefits the people who use the service, but other sharing the roads with them during the Christmas season. And by helping to keep them all safe, it benefits their extended families, too. No family wants a vehicle mishap to dim the glow of the Yuletide season.
The community appreciates the service, as U of L executive director and Operation Red Nose co-ordinator Sandy Slavin indicated in the story in Thursday’s Lethbridge Herald. Citizens are so appreciative that last year, between tips and sponsors, the U of L program was able to put $40,000 back into Pronghorn athletics.
Operation Red Nose is the quintessential win-win scenario, providing much-needed financial support for the university’s sports program, along with a valuable community service that helps cut down on potential impaired drivers.
Slavin estimates that at least 750-800 volunteers will be needed to ensure the smooth operation of the Red Nose program this year. Anyone interested in helping out can contact Pronghorn Athletics at 403-329-2681 or download the application form at http://www.gohorns.ca.
Rides will be available by calling 403-320-4155.