'Snow angels' help drive hospital staff to work in winter weather
VICTORIA -- Nearly 100 people are volunteering their time to drive hundreds of Island Health employees to hospitals across Vancouver Island.
Members of the VI Toyota 4x4 group say while most people find it difficult to drive in the snow, their cars are made for it. Bigger tires and more clearance make winter driving easy. It is the reason why the group has decided to give back.
"[Staff at Victoria General Hospital] has patched me up a hundred times," said volunteer driver Shelby Newcombe. "They also delivered my little boy here, and I was also born here, so it is nice to give back to them."
The Vancouver Island group reached out to Island Health on Thursday in anticipation of snowy weather. The group had previously driven some staff to work when the snow fell in 2019. A Facebook page was made, and it's where more than 1,400 members are coordinating the rides.
"We aren’t looking for anything in return, it is completely free of charge," said Newcombe. "But people have been donating money for gas and banana bread, which was a big hit."
Island Health says staff who are comfortable driving are also offering rides to colleagues.
"It's really heartwarming to see the community come together," said Andrea Boardman, corporate director for logistics and operations for Island Health. "Victoria is made up of a lot of municipalities but those borders don’t mean anything today, everyone just wants to help people get to work."
Newcombe said he helped 20 people get to work, on Wednesday, which is low compared to some of the busy days other drivers have had.
"I've been running from Sooke all the way to Saanich Peninsula Hospital and anywhere in between," Newcombe said. "I've been driving all walks of life, from doctors to housekeeping staff, and have met people that I normally wouldn’t have."
The group says the goal is to help ensure patients at island hospitals are taken care of.