If you love holiday cheer, don’t miss out on one of our favorite Champaign-Urbana holiday traditions: listening to University of Illinois students sing Christmas carols and other holiday tunes over the phone.
Dial-A-Carol re-opens at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12 and continues through 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18. It goes continuously, 24 hours a day.
Since 1960, University of Illinois students have sung Christmas carols over the phone, live from Snyder Hall. While Dial-A-Carol helps bring holiday cheer all over the world – it also helps alleviate stress for student volunteers, many of whom are in the midst of studying for first semester finals. While technology may change, Dial-A-Carol persists.
If your kids enjoy calling someone on the phone, don’t miss it. Not only do kids love it, but the college students love talking to little kids. This will be Dial-A-Carol’s 59th season of delivering holiday cheer over the phone lines (call (217) 332-1882).
It’s not just Christmas songs that are available – we’ve called and asked for Chanukah tunes, too.
A unique and beloved holiday tradition known all over the world, here’s how it works:
Step 1: Dial 217-332-1882.
Step 2: A recording will answer. It says you might have to wait up to 15 minutes, but we’ve never waited that long. Be prepared to answer a few questions – your name, where you are calling from, and what song you would like. They might also ask where you heard about it – answer chambanamoms.com!
Step 3: Once you hear a live human, politely ask for your favorite holiday song. People can request any Christmas carol they want. Want to find the most obscure of songs? Go ahead and try to stump them – although they are whizzes at Google.
Step 4: Listen to the song. Sing along if you wish!
Step 5: Call again. You can call as much as you want.
The program is fully staffed by volunteers. Students pulling all-nighters isn’t uncommon during finals, after all. But it’s not just students who sing; in fact, Dial-a-Carol is really pushing hard to attract volunteers, so that it can answer all the calls it receives.
Last year, Dial-a-Carol received 10,000 calls, but were only able to answer 8,000. They get around 150 volunteers. Some students sing everyday and some for just one call as they walk walk through the lobby. They also have many professional staff members and members of the community help sign (if you’re interested in participating, here’s a form to fill out for prospective volunteers.)
“Dial-a-Carol has been able to continue for 59 years because not only has it become a wonderful tradition at the U of I, but also a tradition for families all across the world that continue to call every year,” said one of the Dial-a-Carol student volunteers.
Callers include children and adults of all ages including community members, university students, faculty members, and alumni.
Just to remind you, the telephone number during the week is (217) 332-1882.
Watch a video here: