Operation Red Nose Surrey-Langley could close for rest of season due to lack of volunteers

Organizers say they are struggling to keep up with high call numbers and long wait times

While the interest is high this holiday season for using Operation Red Nose (ORN) as a safe way to get home, a lack of volunteers may shut the local service down for the remainder of its scheduled run.

The volunteer service, facilitated by Langley Minor Hockey Association (LMHA), did manage to complete over 110 safe rides during their second weekend out in the community, Dec. 6 and 7.

But Michelle Cowan, vice president of operations for LMHA, the service could have done so much more.

“On Saturday alone, we had almost 20 callers for the service look elsewhere because of the wait times. Additionally, another 10 cancelled after booking their rides for the same reason,” Cowan said.

After a two-year absence in Surrey and Langley, the LMHA team say the high number of calls is a positive sign that ORN does have support; but without drivers, there’s no way the service can continue.

“We could have used at least five more drive teams Saturday night,” Cowan explained. “Our volunteers worked tirelessly through until about 4 a.m. each night.”

Because of so few names signed up for the coming weeks – particularly New Year’s Eve – Cowan said Surrey-Langley is in danger of not having ORN as an option as the holiday’s get into full swing.

“There is huge interest in using the service, but without the volunteers, we may be forced to end the campaign,” she said.

ORN accepts volunteers all season along; all interested applicants have to do is fill out a form – available at www.langleyminorhockey.ca.

The service is executed in teams; one volunteer drives, a second navigates, and a third volunteer follows in an escort vehicle to pick up the volunteers.

READ MORE: More than 60 safe rides home given in Langley over first Operation Red Nose Weekend

People do not need to sign up in teams to volunteer – anyone interested is welcome and will be assigned to a group.

Driver’s licenses are not required for all volunteers either; navigators are needed to help direct drivers.

For those who can get behind the wheel, ICBC will issue special coverage on volunteer vehicles for the evening.

“Additionally, we had some incredible support from the RCMP and ICBC this weekend,” Cowan added. “They toured around with our Rudy promotional team, and even let Rudy help out at a road block.”

Covering all of Langley-Township and Surrey, ORN is scheduled every Friday and Saturday night, 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. as well as Tuesday, Dec. 31. – New Year’s Eve.

The service runs on donations, any money given by ORN users will go towards LHMA to help bring down fees for young hockey players.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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