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Operation Red Nose delivers 665 rides in 2018

Use of the St. John Ambulance program fell short of expectations, but still helped hundreds of people get their vehicles home safely over the holidays.
Gillian Lavoie Operation Red Nose
St. John Ambulance's Gillian Lavoie says they gave about 665 rides during the most recent Operation Red Nose campaign. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – It didn’t hit the1,000-ride target, but nonetheless the recent Operation Red Nose campaign has been deemed a success.

Gillian Lavoie, a fundraising and business support intern at the Thunder Bay St. John Ambulance chapter, on Thursday said they still managed to give 100s of holiday revelers a safe option to get themselves and their vehicles home, without endangering other motorists.

“This year we gave 665 rides. It was a little bit less than last year, because we had three less service days,” Lavoie said.

An additional 46 potential rides were turned away, the vehicle owners unable to produce a valid insurance card to meet the main condition of the program, which involves volunteers pairing up to drive both the client and his or her vehicle home in return for a donation to St. John Ambulance.

Lavoie said the program is win-win for everyone.

“It’s always nice when you see people supporting a local not-for-profit, and people are thinking about using this instead of a taxi heading home,” she said.

“It’s nice they know their donations stay in Thunder Bay and at this branch.”

The money collected helps fund a variety of community initiative programs, Lavoie added.

“This includes our therapy dogs, car-seat safety, our youth unit, medical first responders and SJA Connect, which is a new initiative we introduced this year.”

About 101 volunteers took part in Operation Red Nose, including a number of newcomers, but Lavoie said they could always use more during the holiday season.

To get there, and encourage more people to take advantage of the program, the organizations intends to make better use of social media to help get the word out.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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