BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Lacombe chapter officially kicked off their annual Red Ribbon campaign recently and took part in their annual Charity Checkstop event.
The Charity Checkstop event raises funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Lacombe as well as collects food for the Lacombe Food Bank.
This year, $2,400 was raised from the checkstop, to be shared among MADD and BBBS.
“We always want to remind the public to be cautious and responsible. When people tie those red ribbons in their vehicle, it’s a reminder to be responsible and say no to drinking and driving. MADD isn’t against drinking completely, but we want people to plan ahead. Drink responsibly, plan a ride home, call a friend or a cab,” said Debbie Barron of the local MADD chapter, as well as the local Victim Services program based out of the Lacombe Police Service.
“We just want people to be safe – that’s what it comes down to. I have seen some of the devastation that impaired driving has caused, and we have local families that have lost loved ones to impaired driving.”
Barron explained the funds received through the Charity Checkstop go towards educational information and hand-outs that are delivered alongside local police during holiday season check stops. As well, that money could be put towards school education programs.
One of the main recipient programs of those charity dollars is the National Conference for Victims of Impaired Driving, which takes place each April in Toronto.
For the last couple of years, the Lacombe MADD association has finally been able to send a few local families to attend this conference. Barron said this is a fantastic resource for families who have lost loved ones to impaired drivers and for those who have been injured by an impaired driver.
“Prior to the last few years, we hadn’t been able to send anyone but it has been phenomenal since we’ve been able to do that. We get good feedback from the families who have gone, who have expressed how helpful and healing that weekend was for them. That’s a great project we’re able to do, it’s very rewarding,” Barron said.
Barron said much of the money raised from the checkstop will go towards supporting these family experiences.
“We’re a very small chapter and are keeping busy trying to get our Red Ribbon boxes out into Lacombe and Blackfalds. It’s important to remind the community that all of the funds we raise remain in our local chapter,” Barron said.
“Our funds help us out with doing checkstops with police, where we purchase items to give out during those stops. We give out brochures and small bags and information with the police members while they are out. We get a lot of support in the community for doing that and we hear lots that people are happy we are in the public eye.”