Operation Red Nose has come a long way in seven years, said Dave Dickson, RCMP community safety co-ordinator, as he thanked volunteers during an appreciation lunch hosted by the Williams Lake Rotary Club last Wednesday.
“In 2008 we gave 206 rides and raised $4,000,” Dickson smiled. “In 2014 we gave 365 rides and raised $10,000 plus.”
The number of volunteers helping provide safe rides during the Christmas season has increased from 100 to 188, he added.
Youth in the community benefit from the program, evident by the fact Rotary president Karen Eden presented cheques in the amount of $2,500 each to the Gymnastics Club, Williams Lake Skate Club, Blue Fins and Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddlers during the luncheon.
In return, each club is expected to provide volunteers for each of the nights Operation Red Nose is offered.
Angie Johnson from the Gymnastics Club said she was so impressed with the young adults who used the service.
“They were 19 to 24 years olds, all so polite and they thanked us,” she said.
Eden praised Dickson for co-ordinating the program, saying without him Operation Red Nose wouldn’t be what it is.
“I want to say a huge thanks to [all of the sponsors],” he said.
Dickson also presented a certificate of appreciation to community policing volunteer Chris Dow for his dedication.
The 19-year-old has been volunteering regularly after he was recruited in 2012 by retired RCMP officer Bob McIntosh who runs the Citizens on Patrol program.
“The two have a father-son relationship,” Dickson said of Dow and McIntosh. “Chris came out six nights to help with Operation Red Nose. He was there from 8:45 p.m. to 3 a.m. even though he was dead tired, and I told him he could go home.”
Often the next morning Dow was manning a Salvation Army donation ball at one of the locations by 10 a.m., he added.