Dial-A-Carol saw a drop in volunteers and calls

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Wednesday is the last day for a dial-a-carol. It’s a decades-long tradition at the U of I.

Christmas Carols have been filling Snyder Hall at the U of I, 24 hours a day for seven days in December.

“The line from the movie “Elf”, the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud of all to hear,” Arthur Hall, a caroler, said.

Hall is a Junior at the U of I. This is his second year as a caroler for Dial-A-Carol. He spends hours a day singing to strangers.

“I’ve gotten calls from people who are like yeah, I’m having a bad day, or you know someone’s passed away recently or something like that. Even just kids who want something fun to have. It’s nice to be able to sing to them and brighten their day a little bit,” Hall said.

Students, faculty and staff can volunteer to answer phone calls from around the world and sing them a holiday song.

But this year, organizers said it’s been a struggle finding people to answer the phones. They said in years past they would get about 150 volunteers. This year it’s down to about 50.

“A lot of our students hadn’t heard of this or, hadn’t been able to do it in person. So, last year because of the pandemic, we did automated service. So, they were interested, but they hadn’t seen it. So this year it’s difficult to tell people yes, it is fun, but you have to try it first,” Chibuihe Asonye, the assistant residence director, said.

And she said they’ve gotten significantly fewer calls. In 2019, they got around 10,000 calls. This year, they’ve gotten about half that. Hall said either way, he loves spreading Christmas cheer.

“Since the first day, I’ve been doing at least 8 hours a day. Although, my average has been like 11,” he said. “I was like, “Oh my god, I love this. I need to do this forever.””

You can call in until 11:59 Wednesday at 217-332-1882 or sign up to volunteer here. Organizers said you can also stop by Snyder Hall at any time to sing a tune.

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