Another site, TextSanta.net, expects to send out close to 100,000 texts this year.
T.J. Kirgin Jr., CEO of the 2-year-old texting operation and also leader of an advertising firm in St. Charles, Mo., said the idea is to be greener — not generating all those paper letters — and to raise money for charity. From every $3.99 text, $1 is donated to the March of Dimes.
Kirgin said it's a thrill for children not just to write to Santa, but to hear from him.
"One parent said (his son) was so excited that he got a text message from Santa that he actually peed his pants," Kirgin said. The child then feared that Santa would be upset at him for not being a "big boy."
The parents had Santa send another text to tell him it was OK.
Sue Wangler, a grandmother who lives in Maryland Heights, Mo., has been using the service to have Santa send texts to her granddaughter and some other young friends for three years.
She said the messages are helpful for her granddaughter and a close friend, both 9, who have been wondering whether Santa's real. "This text from Santa has prolonged the belief system a little longer," she said.
Gogii, a mobile application development firm in Marina del Rey, Calif., for which Olanoff plays Santa, has an irreverent take on children's Christmas lists. Olanoff posts some requests on his blog at textingsantaclaus.com, along with some cheeky responses.
One texter asked for a pony. "Really?" Olanoff wrote on the blog (not back to the child). "Kids still ask for those? Ponies are so like 1993. Unicorns are the new hot. Unicorns with Rainbow T-Shirts in fact."
The most faithful believers in Santa Claus, of course, are too young to type or text. But hold them up to the monitor and they'll see that Santa is on Facebook and Twitter, too.