Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Driver's mission: keeping roads safe

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There are many different holiday traditions observed by Winnipeggers, but for Bill Marsh, the holiday season means one thing -- helping others get home from their parties safely.

This marks his seventh year as a volunteer with Operation Red Nose. Run by Safety Services Manitoba, the designated-driver program offers partygoers safe rides home in their own vehicles.

This year -- the 15th year of operation in Manitoba -- Operation Red Nose will run in Winnipeg, as well as in Brandon, Flin Flon, Gimli, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, The Pas and Thompson, thanks to the support of more than 1,500 volunteers. Rides are free but donations are accepted by volunteers on behalf of various youth sporting programs and community groups.

Marsh's interest in the cause started eight years ago. While on his way home from a New Year's party, he noticed many young adults outside a bar near his home waiting for rides. He dropped his family off at home and returned to the bar.

"It was freezing cold -- like minus 40 C -- so I went back and proceeded to spend the next four and a half or five hours driving all these kids home from the bar," said Marsh, a letter carrier for Canada Post.

Many of them told him that they were waiting for taxis or for Operation Red Nose, but the anticipated wait was a few hours.

" I thought it was really responsible for them to stick it out like that -- especially in such cold, cold weather -- to be waiting for a couple of hours or more," explained Marsh. "They were making the right choice."

The following year he decided to join Operation Red Nose, hoping that his volunteer involvement as a driver would help lessen the time that people were waiting for rides home.

"They know that there is a service out there that will get them home safely with their vehicle," said Marsh, the father of two teenagers. "Definitely we've probably saved countless lives just by having this program."

Last year in Manitoba, Operation Red Nose provided 2,777 rides. Donations from those rides totalled over $45,000.

Operation Red Nose began service this past weekend but volunteers are still required to serve as drivers, escort drivers and navigators on December 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, and 31. The busiest nights, requiring the most volunteers will be Dec. 19 and 31. The position is flexible and volunteers can chose to work as many nights as they want. Additional information and a downloadable volunteer registration form are available by visiting www.safetyservicesmanitoba.ca/rednose.

In Winnipeg, those wanting to use the service can call 947-NOSE (6673).

If you know a special volunteer who strives to make our community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at erinmadden@shaw.ca.

Volunteers needed

A list of volunteer opportunities advertised in the Winnipeg area. For more information about these listings, please contact the person/organization directly. You may also call (204) 477-5180 ext. 221 to set up an appointment to see an interviewer at Volunteer Manitoba. Email: vmreferral@mts.net or visit our website: www.mbvolunteer.ca for other available volunteer opportunities.

"ö L'Arche Winnipeg, an international federation of communities centred on the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, is looking for volunteers to be a special friend who will take a genuine interest in a person with a disability through such activities as games, visits and outings such as movies. Call Brenda, 237-0300 ext. 20 or volunteer@larchewinnipeg.org

"ö UNICEF Canada - Prairies, the world's leading advocates for children, requires kiosk sales assistants to sell UNICEF greeting cards and gifts during the holiday season at various locations. Information: Cate, 477-4600 ext. 8301 or cross@unicef.ca.

"ö SSCOPE Inc., an agency that supports mental health through employment, needs volunteers for their Board of Directors. The focus for 2010 is to evaluate the organization's development and expand options for the organization including a possible merger with another non-profit. Information: Bob, 987-6302 or ed_sscope@mts.net.

"ö McKinnon Guild urgently needs volunteers to work in their Nearly New Shop at 961 Portage Ave. All proceeds go to the Children's Hospital Foundation. The shop is open Monday-Saturday and volunteers are needed to fill a three-hour shift, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. or 1- 4 p.m. Information: Lynda, Anna or Marrily at 772-3629.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2009 B4

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