Ringing in the holiday

CHAMPAIGN – Haven't heard enough of your favorite Christmas carol yet? Need to hear "Jingle Bells" one more time?

You've got until Friday at midnight to call Dial-A-Carol and request what you want to hear.

But do the kids manning the phones a favor. Don't ask for Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." They've heard it way too many times already.

Same goes for The Chipmunks.

The Dial-A-Carol program is in its 45th year at the Snyder Hall dorm at the University of Illinois. Armed with three phones, three boom boxes, more than 100 CDs and lots of snacks, students volunteer to play requests for holiday songs around the clock during finals week.

Dial-A-Carol started at midnight last Friday and will go to midnight this Friday. The phone number is 332-1882, and you can have a carol played for you when you call, or request one to be played for someone else.

Sometimes callers ask for the students to sing instead of playing a CD, and the students offer to sing to every 100th caller. They have also been on the receiving end. One caller stopped by the dorm and sang to them, said Stephanie Borris, a junior who is co-chair of the program this year.

The students had taken nearly 400 calls as of Wednesday afternoon. They are keeping track of out-of-state callers, and so far this year, they've had calls from Massachusetts, Ohio, New Mexico, and California. Many are friends of students, but some are radio station DJs who have heard about the program and request a song during their shows.

"I think it builds a sense of community in Snyder Hall," Borris said of the program.

During the late-night hours, the volunteers watch movies or eat pizza. Sophomore Erica Van Ollefen finished her finals on Monday, but she planned to stay on campus all week and help with Dial-A-Carol.

"We can come in here any time and there are always people here," she said.

"This is a good place for distraction. It's a good break from the monotony of tests," added sophomore John Li. "It's a really funny combination of, 'Yah, let's have fun,' and 'Oh no, I've got to study.'"

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