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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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North Wind Editorial Board February 27, 2024

Group offers safe rides home for students

The Safe Rides Home group will return this Halloween weekend to provide students a safe and free ride home throughout Marquette.

The group, which runs twice a year around Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day, will be on the streets of Marquette from  9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 31 through Saturday, Nov. 2.

The group does not bring students to the bars or parties, but rather provides a safe ride back for them at no cost.

Deb Heino, the group’s administrator and leader of the Relevant campus ministry, pays for all of the group’s costs, from gas to insurance out of her and her husband’s pockets, and uses their own vehicles for the group’s transportation.

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Although the group is offering this service free of charge they are collecting monetary donations that will go towards feeding the hungry in the Marquette area.

Heino stressed the importance of staying responsible when thinking about drinking and driving.

“If you’re in any kind of doubt on if you should drive or not, you should call us instead,” Heino said. “It’s a lot easier and cheaper to pay a parking ticket than it is to pay off a DUI.”

Heino said when she was in college, students drank and drove frequently with a lower blood alcohol content than we have today.

“The law’s a lot stricter now,” Heino said. “I’m not saying the law should change, but we need to raise more awareness of how much easier it’s becoming to get in trouble for drinking and driving.”

The group is also focused on keeping the passengers safe and comfortable throughout their ride, as each vehicle has a navigator along with the driver that are usually of the same sex, that will be assigned according to the passenger’s orientation for comfort.

Sarah Ylitalo, a volunteer recruiter for the group says that the passenger’s confidentiality is very important to the group.

“One of our biggest rules is that we don’t ever tell who we’ve drove home from a party,” Ylitalo said. “If you make a mistake, this ride home can help keep it quiet.”

Heino said that while her and her husband are involved with the Relevant campus ministry, this should not turn people off from calling for a safe ride home or volunteering with the group.

“We’re not going to push God onto any of our volunteers or passengers,” Heino said. “Please ignore that we’re a campus ministry, and think of us as a campus service. We’re here to serve students.”

This will be Safe Rides Homes’ eighth year running. The group hopes to expand and get on the streets more throughout the year, but in order to do so, Heino said the group needs more volunteers to come and help out with the program.

“Since we’re an organization, people probably think we have enough volunteers to run this but we really don’t,” Heino said. “Graduations over the years have really hit us hard, and we barely have any volunteers left. We really need some students to come and help out.”

Volunteers for Safe Rides Home are provided food and drink that are donated by various businesses from throughout the community for their services.

Safe Rides Home  will be setting up a table in the Lower level of the LRC looking for volunteers on Wednesday, Oct. 30 throughout the day.

Those interested in volunteering or looking for a safe ride home during Halloween weekend  can contact Deb Heino at (906) 362-4669 or email [email protected].

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