Video games. Computers. American Girl dolls. Baby brothers or sisters. A “hot blonde.”
All of these were gift wishes for Santa Claus left via voicemail by children and adults calling the first-ever “Santa Hotline” introduced by Long Beach-based telecommunications company FreeConferenceCall.com.
The hotline number is (951) 262-3062. Callers are greeted by a “realistic” Santa Claus reminding children to be good, to listen to their parents, and to leave all Christmas wishes after the tone.
Dave Erickson, president of FreeConferenceCall.com, said the hotline was started because 2009 was the first year that the United States Postal Service may not have been able to fund letters to Santa Claus in care of the North Pole, Alaska, post office. Erickson wanted to ensure that children of all ages would have a safe and fun opportunity to convey their wishes to Santa in time for Christmas.
“The way that children connect with Santa is evolving and we are excited to help connect today’s next generation of communicators to Santa over the phone,” Erickson said.
Established in 2001, FreeConferenceCall.com provides free, collaborative communications solutions such as conferencing services.
According to FreeConferenceCall.com’s Web site, their conferencing services use PSTN (public switched telephone network) to deliver high-quality audio telephone connections. Calls can be accessed from regular telephones and only normal long distance charges by each caller’s carrier apply.
In order to generate the telephone number for the hotline, Erickson said the company used their SimpleVoiceBox tool, a private voice mailbox system that allows users to record detailed greetings. A phone number was generated randomly and assigned to be the Santa Hotline account, and long distance rates will apply if a caller is outside the 951 local area of Riverside County.
“Callers have left more than 4,000 messages for Santa,” Erickson said Thursday. “FreeConferenceCall.com employees are really enjoying listening to these messages. We’re documenting all gift requests and any contact information provided … we want to make sure that Santa gets all the information he needs.”
From the thousands of messages, a few have been memorable, Erickson said.
For example, one boy called and left a message saying that he doesn’t make any money, but if Santa could just send his mom some candles, he would be very grateful.
Another little girl called the hotline and asked for an FBI kit so that she could arrest her teddy bear.
Wishes from adults have ranged from humorous to touching, including one man asking for a “hot blonde” under his Christmas tree and a father asking Santa to help him feel the joy he has at Christmas all year long.
“FreeConferenceCall.com is really excited to make Santa’s Hotline our newest holiday tradition,” Erickson said. “We didn’t expect to receive such an incredible response and we are looking forward to taking messages for Santa for years to come…We want to possibly get a local organization involved to help spread goodness to those that need it most during the holiday season.”
Erickson said FreeConferenceCall.com is considering adding other holiday-oriented hotlines during next year.
The Santa Hotline will remain active until Friday, Dec. 25. For details, visit www.FreeConferenceCall.com.