Holiday drivers have backup plan

They spread cheer by helping those who may have overindulged in too much a safe ride home.

TRISHA SCAVARDA speaks at Thursday's Comox Valley launch of the 2011 Operation Red Nose campaign.

They spread cheer by helping those who may have overindulged in too much a safe ride home, and the local branch of Operation Red Nose (ORN) is hoping for more volunteers this holiday season.”Last year we had 50 volunteers that helped provide safe rides for over 446 people in our first year of service … (this year) we’re hoping for 80 or as many as 100, said Tricia Scavarda, ORN co-ordinator. “The more volunteers, the more rides.”During the official launch Thursday morning, Scavarda said the program was created to encourage responsible behaviour around impaired driving by enabling communities to provide a free and confidential chauffeur service during the holiday season.Volunteer drivers along with a navigator will pick up riders and drive them home in their car, while an escort driver will follow in another vehicle.The service is free, added Scavarda, but patrons are encouraged to make a donation.”Our mission this year is to increase exposure to local businesses through their spirit of giving, and donations received will go towards funding ValleyLinks youth programs,” she noted. “Today, more than 100 organizations across Canada benefit from the proceeds from Operation Red Nose campaign.”Comox Valley RCMP Insp. Tom Gray said ORN is good alternative to keeping impaired drivers off the road.”Let’s face it, people who drive impaired are a risk to your family, to my family and we need to put an end to that. “There’s no excuse; you must find a way to get yourself home safely without driving impaired,” he said. “From a policing perspective, we will be out looking for people who are driving impaired. The consequences are extremely serious. I’m asking people to think ahead.”Comox Fire Chief Gord Schreiner volunteered as a driver for the program last year, and said the experience was very worthwhile.”It’s meaningful, it’s worthwhile, you meet some nice people while doing it along the way and you’re doing something positive in the community,” he added. This year, ORN is servicing Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland and Royston on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. beginning Nov. 25 through Dec. 31, excluding Dec. 23 and 24. To volunteer, pick up an application at the ValleyLinks office at 532 5th Street in Courtenay, or visit www.valleylinks.net or www.operationrednose.com.photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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