Kamloops residents who received a safe ride home from Operation Red Nose this past season were extra generous when dipping into their wallets.
Year-end results show that while the safe ride service offered slightly fewer rides in 2019 compared to 2018, financial donations were around the same amount amount, resulting in a higher average donation per ride.
From Nov. 29 through New Year’s Eve, Operation Red Nose gave 1,218 rides over 15 nights, 95 fewer rides than in 2018, but the donations were close to $33,000.
“Which is great,” Operation Red Nose co-ordinator Katie Klassen said. “Always nice to raise the same amount as last year.”
The numbers did not break local records. The best Operation Red Nose campaign occurred in 2017, when the luck of the calendar resulted in 18 nights of rides, leading to 1,338 trips and donations of more than $35,000 for PacificSport.
However, Klassen noted that Kamloops once again ranked first in rides among 11 communities in British Columbia and 16th out of 100 communities across the country.
“Really happy with that,” Klassen said. “It just shows that Kamloops always does so well.”
Further reflecting on the season, Klassen said many new volunteers were recruited. In total, 235 volunteers filled 609 positions. Between six and eight volunteers were on duty all 15 nights.
One night that could have used a few more hands was New Year’s Eve. Klassen said 15 teams hit the streets, the lowest number for the occasion in almost nine years. The situation was further exacerbated with an accident that night, when a suspected drunk driver hit two vehicles en route with three passengers to Barnhartvale. After the crash, another team arrived on scene to take the clients home, wrapping up their shift after that final ride and taking the number of teams down to 13.
“We could have used more on New Year’s Eve for sure,” Klassen said.
Money collected goes to Pacific Sport Interior BC, which funds athlete and coach education, travel grants and youth programs. The end of the campaign wraps the 36th season of Operation Red Nose. Across Canada, nearly 49,000 volunteers in 100 communities drove home more than 69,000 people. In B.C., about 3,000 volunteers got 5,400 drivers home safely.