Lions Club of Prince Albert members were out on Tuesday and Wednesday wrapping up the loose ends from Operation Red Nose.
© Daily Herald photo by Jason Kerr.
Lions Club President Suzanne Bantle (right) and Operation Red Nose Chairman James Wilm (left) present Daily Herald publisher John Morash with a certificate of thanks for helping with Operation Red Nose.
The club visited four schools and two other local community groups to present them with a portion of the funds they raised from the December safe-ride service.
“Any of the funds from Operation Red Nose are monetary donations and client donations,” club president Suzanne Bantle says. “We do not benefit from it. All the money gets turned back into the community.”
Vincent Massey Community Public School, Berezowsky Public School, Turgeon Catholic Community School and Riverside Community Public School were the four educational institutes, which received funding. Massey received almost $1,000 to purchase books for their school reading program, while the other three were given $600 each for their lunch and snack programs.
“It was a very interesting, sitting down trying to decide where we could best utilize these funds,” Operation Red Nose chairperson James Wilm says. “What we wanted to look at was if we give money to (a group), what could we look at as being the overall amount of people we were going to be able to reach.”
Wilm says that’s what attracted them to the school programs.
“If you give money to a school everybody in the school benefits. If you’re looking at a sports team, very often it’s just that team that benefits, so we wanted to maximize the use of our funds to as many people as we could.”
That’s not to say only schools benefited. The club also gave $400 to Calvary United Church to help fund their daycare program, and $300 to the Weirdale Minor Softball Association.
Bantle says they had 20 funding applications, and she wishes they could have donated more.
“Unfortunately we can’t accommodate all our applications because we’re limited with the amount of funds we have,” she says. “We did the best with what we could.”
Operation Red Nose is a safe-ride service where Lions Club members and other volunteers drive people who have been drinking home in their own cars. The service runs from the last week in November until New Year’s Day, and costs nothing to use, although clients can donate funds to the Lions Club if they wish. It’s this money that was donated this week.
“The mandate we operate under is we do not charge, but people will very willingly make a donation,” Wilm says. “There were lots of them that made some very good donations, simply because, if you look at it, if they’d have got stopped going home, what would have been the alternative. They might have been paying a whole lot more than what they donated to us, and they realize that.”
Wilm and Bantle insist they couldn’t be successful without the help of local business. The business community in Prince Albert provided everything from cars to pick drivers up after they’d dropped their clients off, to free pizza, to monetary donations.
After dropping off the cheques on Tuesday, they made sure to go around thanking their backers on Wednesday.
“We had 22 businesses sponsor the program, whether it’s gift in time or a monetary donation of some sort,” Bantle says. “The wonderful thing that we’re doing today, that we feel is very important, is we’re going around to thank all the sponsors that helped us out with the program.”
Despite difficulties finding enough volunteers to help out, and some incredibly cold December weather, the Lions consider Operation Red Nose to be a success, and are planning to do it again next year.
“It takes a large number of volunteers, but as the program grows the volunteers, I’m sure, will come along,” Wilm says. “It’s getting more well known now in the community and the community is starting to talk about this program. They’ve heard bits and pieces but now they’re realizing this is a good option for our community.”