After the holiday season, Operation Red Nose, the Rotary Club of Petawawa newest initiative, took 55 impaired drivers home, all while collecting $5,410 for the Petawawa Public Library. The total was made official on Jan. 14, and the cheque was presented to library CEO Amanda Foster. From left are Rotarian Val Hyska, Foster, Rotarian Ed Chow and Mascot Rudy. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

Petawawa’s Operation Red Nose raises $5,410 for Library, keeps 55 drivers safe

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday January 30, 2020

Operation Red Nose has contributed $5,410 to the Petawawa Public Library in its inaugural year.

The Rotary Club of Petawawa introduced this safe-ride program to the area in 2019 and over the holidays, ferried 55 drivers home safely.

Both the amount raised and the number of clients surpassed Operation Red Nose Co-Chair Rotarian Val Hyska’s expectations.

“The results were just great,” she said. “We had amazing community support and the financial support we received from our sponsors really helped us bring that total in.”

Nation-wide, Operation Red Nose is in its 36th year but it is new to the Petawawa area. The concept is simple but relies heavily on teams of volunteers willing to spend their weekends driving people and their vehicles safely home for a donation.

Despite it being in its infancy locally, it has proven to be very successful.

“We were definitely jumping into the unknown but with the help and support of a many volunteers and community partners, it has been a great success,” said Hyska.

She estimates that the 32 non-Rotarian volunteers gave a total of 588 hours of their time during the holiday season.

Though the program was widely viewed as a success, there will probably be some changes next year.

As most of the calls came from parties and events at Garrison Petawawa, organizers are thinking of changing the dates to accommodate units.

“We are really thinking of honing in on that time because it seems to be that niche group that really was using the service,” said Hyska. “But, of course, we’ll still be here on our regular Friday and Saturday nights.”
The rides are confidential and anonymous, but Hyska confirmed that there were no negative incidents.

“Everybody was great, nice people to meet and really enjoyed using the service and made it fun for us as well,” she said.

She is also pleased to see the collected money to go towards such a good community cause. The funds will be used to hire an extra summer student at the library to help provide more children’s programs.

“This is more than we expected,” said Library CEO Amanda Foster of the generous donation. “We will definitely be able to hire an extra summer student.”

With this donation in the budget, children’s programs for both young and older children in the summer will be held at the same time, making it easier for families with kids of different ages to enjoy the library’s services.