By Rhia Perkins
It’s got nothing to do with Rudolph, but Operation Red Nose is back for its eighth year at the University of Calgary.
The program, a collaboration between the University of Calgary Swim Club and Dinos Athletics, aims to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the streets this holiday season.
The principle of the program is simple–clients phone into ORN headquarters the night they plan to be out, and the dispatch centre records their details, relaying them to the team of drivers when clients are ready to leave their parties.
"There’s a lot of parties going on because it’s Christmas," said Graeme Gordon, a third-year Biochemistry student and member of the Swim Club who is a volunteer driver. "A lot of people want to drive home when they’ve had a bit to drink, we offer them an alternative to driving home, or even taking a taxi."
The volunteer team includes two drivers–one for the ORN car, and one for the client’s–and a navigatorwho are equipped with cellular phones donated by GroupCon-nect. Air time is donated by Telus Mobility.
"They take the client and their vehicle to the next destination, and another car follows to pick up the volunteers," said Director of Sport Sponsorship Lisa Bacigalupi.
The front seats are reserved for the volunteer driver and navigator, but as many passengers who can be safely accommodated are driven to the client’s next destination, whether that is home or another party.
"It’s a great organization, because we need to be aware that people sometimes do stupid things and drive drunk," said Gordon. "It’s an opportunity [for them] not to do more damage than they might do otherwise."
There is no charge to use the service though donations are appreciated.
"Everything is done by donations in regard to direct connection with the client that night," said Gordon. ORN is one of the year’s biggest fund-raisers for the two organizations.
Participation in ORN is mandatory for Dinos team members and varsity athletes.
"It is a department fundraiser that benefits all the teams and athletes equally," said Bacigalupi.
It is also a requirement for Swim Club members.
"There’s a $50 to $60 fine if you don’t show up," said Gordon.
Operation Red Nose runs Dec. 9, 10, 15-18, and 23, after 9 p.m. but will not run on Dec. 31 this year due to Y2K issues.
Call 220-8889 to use Operation Red Nose, or 222-7330 to volunteer.