The Estevan chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) is going to be busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, thanks to its annual Project Red Ribbon.
Volunteers with local chapter have been out with the Estevan Police Service for spot checks and to distribute red ribbons to sober drivers. Connie Hagel, the volunteer co-ordinator of the Estevan chapter, said a red ribbon is a reminder to drive sober.
“What that red ribbon symbolizes is your promise to drive sober, or to find a sober ride home, to not drive impaired,” said Hagel.
In recent weeks, Hagel and other volunteers with MADD Canada have been at several check stops in the city to promote their message of sober driving. They will also help out at a few more before Christmas.
“I’m not going to say which dates, because it’s always a surprise, but we hope to be with the police and helping out with those check stops. People are getting used to seeing the MADD Estevan ladies out there, and all my volunteers love doing that because it gives them a sense of if even one red ribbon stops one person from driving impaired, that’s an impact on us.”
Motorists are usually pretty appreciative to see the MADD volunteers and proud to accept a gift. Nobody has denied one as of yet. She believes that everyone in Estevan has been affected by an impaired driver at some point, which means people from all sectors have been supportive.
Also, as part of Project Red Ribbon, most of the places that sell alcohol in Estevan have a box where customers can purchase a red ribbon or a window cling for a small donation.
Donations raised a little more than $100 last year, with money going to victims of impaired driving, including people who have been injured in a car crash due to impaired driving, or the families members of those who die in impaired driving collisions.
“There is always a way to get home sober, or a safe way to get home, instead of getting in that vehicle and driving,” said Hagel.
MADD has had enough volunteers for the check stops this year, but it could always use more. People will take a one or two-hour shift, and one or two volunteers will be present throughout the evening.
“When people volunteer for something like that, they know it’s a good cause and what it’s going to,” she said.
Project Red Ribbon will wrap up what has been a busy year for MADD in Estevan. Earlier this year, they introduced 10 signs to be placed at locations around the community where impaired drivers have been apprehended. They are moved to new locations each month.
There were only a couple to move a few months ago, but she can tell be the list that appeared on the Estevan Mercury’s website recently that quite a few signs will be shifting locations.
“I’m hoping to decrease that for the month of December, so that I don’t have to put that many signs out, but I’ve gotten a lot of comments about those signs and they’re visible, and people are saying ‘I saw your sign.’”
If people see a sign, then she hopes it will reinforce the need to not drive impaired.
She has also attended a couple of conferences. One was the national convention in Toronto, where they learned about the effects of combining cannabis with alcohol.
Then she attended the Western Canada conference in Vancouver, which allowed her to meet people from other communities in Saskatchewan.
“Hearing impact statements from people who have been injured by an impaired driver, it’s very interesting and it’s very insightful, because you don’t realize the detrimental impact that an impaired driving has on somebody or a family until you listen to their stories.”