Despite a drop in volunteers, rides and donations, the 17th edition of Operation Red Nose is still being deemed a success.
Organized once again in Delta/Richmond by the Delta Gymnastics Society, and supported by its provincial sponsor ICBC, Operation Red Nose provided 355 rides, raising $12,627 during the nine nights the service was operated over the holiday season. In total, 210 volunteer drivers took part, including 70 teams.
Last year there was 367 rides, 247 volunteers and 87 teams which raised $12,834 for the society.
“This year was particularly difficult for volunteers,” said Operation Red Nose Delta/Richmond coordinator Ellyn Schriber. “We had less teams and where we would have typically teams of three we had more teams of two. That impacted us on New Year’s Eve for sure.”
Numbers provided by Schriber show a steady decline in volunteers and the number of rides over the last five years. In 2014, for example, there were 614 rides, 427 volunteers and 129 teams, which helped raise close to $19,000.
“So this is not a new trend, but certainly a concerning one for sure,” she said. “It’s hard to say why, but it’s probably the same for a lot of volunteer organizations, our community volunteers skew older and are aging out from doing this. We are not having as many young volunteers come in. We did have some students from the Justice Institute, which was awesome, but other than that, I think people are getting older and it’s taxing on them.”
In order for the gym club to continue operating the program, Schriber said the community has to think more about volunteering.
“We need to reach out more, especially to the younger demographic,” she said. “A service like this is not always top of mind in young people, but it is a way to give back to the community.”
Operation Red Nose completed its 35th year across Canada and 23rd in B.C. where it was offered in 11 communities. In B.C., 3,166 volunteers braved various winter conditions to safely drive home 5,204 motorists, while across Canada, that number was more than 73,000.