2016 UPDATE: Once upon a time, there was a phone number for kids to use to call Santa Claus and talk directly to the North Pole. Sadly, it is discontinued now. Read about the annual kindness, and the man behind it, below…
Did you know there was a phone number for kids to use to call Santa Claus and talk directly to him?
John Dickson, a local Californian who runs the website www.santabarbara.com, organized the project, called Accidental Santa, in 2006 because he received so many phone calls from children who mistakenly dialed his new toll-free number, which was one digit away from 1-800-SANTACLAUS.
Instead of getting a new number, Dickson, who also writes a restaurant column, decided to field the calls himself, in the persona of Santa. He listens to the children’s wish list and answers all their questions. He needed help, too, and placed an ad asking for volunteer elves.
Some of the volunteers bring their kids to the call center to answer the phones as Santa’s elves.
The reward for all his effort?
One volunteer, 61 year-old writer-artist Harley Hahn, told the Good News Network that being Santa Claus is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. “The kids who call are at the age where they can see the magic in the world that everyone else has forgotten.”
It was because of the Accidental Santa that 50-year-old Dickson met his wife. Hahn says she became Mrs. Claus and they are the happiest couple you will ever meet.
“These kids are amazing to talk to. They’re so full of love and hope,” John Dickson (pictured left) told the Santa Barbara News-Press. “Once you talk to a couple of kids, you just can’t put the phone down.”
“The real story is that one person with good intentions, can create so much happiness, and dozens of volunteers could make it happen,” says Hahn.
According to the Accidental Santa website, the phone line is open during the one week before Christmas, December 20-24, every day from 2pm until 8pm Pacific Time (Eastern: 3pm-11pm).
Hahn said he sometimes asks the children, ‘Do they have a secret wish’. Many times they want a relative, like a grandpa or a sibling, to get well.
“Sometimes I’ll ask them if they have a favorite Christmas song, and whether they want to sing it,” Hahn said. “They always ask about the elves and Mrs. Claus.”