Peptoc, a New Hotline Voiced by Healdsburg Kids, Will Brighten Your Day

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Cute African American girl holding cellphone and smiling over yellow background.

Back at the start of the pandemic, when San Francisco commenced its first stay at home order, I compiled a list of "hotlines to bling as the lockdown kicks in." (This feels like a good time to apologize for that part in the beginning where I very confidently stated that shelter in place was going to last three weeks... Ahem.) Now, as mask and vaccination mandates get lifted in the city—almost exactly two years to the day after the original shutdown—there's a brand new phoneline to call when you're trying not to bawl. It's called Peptoc and it is an unfiltered joy provider.

Dreamed up by art teacher Jessica Martin and artist Asherah Weiss, the bilingual line is voiced by the charismatic students (ages 5-12) of West Side Elementary school in Healdsburg. And they are just as adorable and inspiring as you might imagine.

Calling Peptoc on (707) 8-PEPTOC gives you five options:

Press one if you're feeling, "mad, frustrated or nervous." Here, callers will find excellent advice from students that encourages, among a wide array of options, pillow punching, ice cream consumption and trampolining. (Whether or not you attempt all three of these at once is entirely up to you.)

Press two if you, "need words of encouragement and life advice." Callers here can enjoy messages about gratitude, happiness and self-belief. (Shout out to the kid who says "Bro! You're looking great!"—it made my whole entire week.)


Press three if you're in need of a "pep talk from kindergartners." This option, not unlike the kids themselves, is shorter but still sweet.

Press four to hear "kids laughing with delight." Remember that thing I said earlier about unfiltered joy? Yeah. That.

Press five for "encouragement in Spanish." Puedes hacerlo!

Not only is Peptoc's arrival perfectly timed to ease countless bouts of social anxiety, it's already enormously popular. Since it launched on Feb. 26 as the offshoot of a project where kids made flyers with reassuring messages, Peptoc has racked up as many as 5,000 calls an hour. That's in part because word of its heart-warming properties has quickly spread around the world.

“I just heard back from a bunch of people from Argentina," Martin told Good Morning America. "And it ranges from a whole cancer ward of patients getting chemotherapy, to a lady who just found out her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, to a fellow high school teacher just saying how incredible the project was. It's touched a lot of people, so we're pretty proud of these kids."

You can reach Peptoc by calling (707) 873-7862 anytime. To donate to Weiss and Martin's running costs, visit the Peptoc GoFundMe page.