Volunteering From Home for Teens: Letter Writing

Here, I’ve included organizations for teenagers to volunteer from home with- this time, letter writing. Enjoy!

1. Letters Against Isolation

Letters Against Isolation aims to ease loneliness among self-isolating seniors through letters! Volunteers write creative, fun letters or cards, and then mail the cards and letters to addresses they are given. Even though you may have to make a small investment to buy envelopes and stamps, it’s an easy, self-paced way to volunteer! You can find them at https://www.lettersagainstisolation.com/

Volunteering | South Florida Water Management District

2. Cards for a Cause

Cards for a Cause aims to ease sadness and loneliness among children hospitalized for a serious or terminal illness through card-writing. There are instructions for writing cards on their website, along with an email address to mail pictures of you working on the cards, so they can verify your hours. When finished, you mail the cards in one package to a given address, from which they are distributed out to individual children. Because the cards are mailed en masse to a single address, your investment for stamps and envelopes will be minimal, making this a great and easy way to volunteer! You can find them at https://cardsforacause.org/make-cards/

3. Soldiers’ Angels

Soldiers’ Angels is a massive volunteer organization, with many different virtual and in-person opportunities, so take a look at their other campaigns! They currently have two letter and card writing campaigns. However, to participate in their variety of opportunities, they do require a $1 per month donation. You can find them at https://soldiersangels.org/

-Vaidehi B.

Online Volunteering For Teens Part 2

Below, I’ve included three more organizations with which teens can volunteer online! Good luck!

Volunteer Opportunities | Cardinal at Work

1. DoSomething.org

DoSomething.org is another great virtual volunteering platform. The idea here is that you can volunteer from home, on your own schedule, and participate in mini ‘projects’- for example, one project could be collecting a number of nonperishable items for your local food pantry. You must track the hours you spent on the project, and upload pictures of your results- and DoSomething.org will send you a signed certificate confirming your hours! You can find them at https://www.dosomething.org/us

2. Points of Light

Another great platform to check out is Points of Light. Points of Light serves as a database, like VolunteerMatch, for volunteering opportunities in your area, and can also direct you to online opportunities- just toggle the Presence setting to “Remote.” You can find them at https://engage.pointsoflight.org/

3. TED Talk Translator

Do you know a language other than English? Then translating TED Talks might be the perfect volunteer task for you! You are assigned TED Talks in a secondary language, and then write subtitles for them in English, or vice versa- for example, you may have to write English translation captions for a Portuguese TED Talk, or write Portuguese captions for an English one. Even if you only know English, you can transcript subtitles for English TED Talks and review others’ work. The application process to become a translator is a bit tedious, but the work is rewarding! You can find them at https://www.ted.com/participate/translate/transcribe

-Vaidehi B.

5 Best Online Libraries

From school to extra activities, we don’t always have time to stop by the library and pick up some good reads. Online libraries are always a great option so you can read anywhere, anytime. Here are 5 of the best online libraries!

1. Project Gutenburg

Project Gutenburg is an online library that has over 60,000 free eBooks. There is no fee required to join/use the books, but this eLibrary is used more for informational books rather than kids fiction novels. Next time you need an eBook for a school project, visit https://www.gutenberg.org/ !

2. Overdrive

Overdrive is a website that directs you to your local libraries’ online bookshelf. Although Overdrive is not available for every library, it is one of my personal favorite websites to help me find a huge variety of free eBooks and audiobooks. Click here https://www.overdrive.com/account/select-library to use Overdrive!

3. Barnes & Noble Free Kids eBooks

The Barnes & Noble free kids eBooks is an online library that only has children’s books. It is totally free, but an app download is required. This eLibrary is perfect for those who prefer reading their books on their phone rather than a computer, since not all computers are compatible with this app download. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/free-ebooks/nook-books/_/N-ry0Z8qa

4. Oxford Owl

Oxford Owl is an online library for beginner readers (ages 4-8) that is 100% free. A login is required, however, but this website can be used on your tablet or your phone. Oxford Owl has online books such as Incredible Animals, The Frog Prince, and Dolphin Rescue! https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page/

5. Bookshare

Bookshare is a great online library for all ages. This website requires a membership in order to read certain books, but has over 1 million titles to read, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The membership is only $1 a week, and if you are a serious online reader, I highly recommend looking into Bookshare. https://www.bookshare.org/cms/

-Anusha M.

Online Volunteering Opportunities for Teens

Whether you need to complete a school requirement or are just looking to spice up your college applications and resumes, volunteering is a huge part of the middle and high school experience. However, in COVID-19 times, finding in-person volunteering opportunities has become very difficult. A reasonable alternative? Virtual volunteering! You can complete your hours anytime, anywhere, according to your own schedule. Below are three great virtual volunteering opportunities for teenagers!

New Jersey Department of State - Volunteer and National Service -  Volunteering in NJ

1. Zooniverse

Zooniverse is an online platform, specializing in science-based volunteering through transcription and editing. For example, you could be assigned to a project digitizing marine organism classification cards, or transcripting research vessel records from the 19th century. There’s no shortage of projects available! You can find them at https://www.zooniverse.org/

2. Amnesty Decoders

Amnesty Decoders is an offshoot branch of Amnesty International. The platform utilizes citizen volunteers (like you!) to analyze images, scan text blocks, or sift through documents to find, track, and report occurrences, like harassment, that impinge on people’s human rights. You may also be assigned a research or categorizing role. For example, you could examine pictures of New York City intersections and flag all the cameras you see, so Amnesty can better understand how new facial recognition and camera technology impacts marginalized communities. Amnesty Decoders does not currently have any projects open to volunteers, but you can subscribe to their mailing list to be notified of upcoming projects. You can find them at https://decoders.amnesty.org/

3. Smithsonian Transcription Center

The Smithsonian Transcription Center is another great volunteer option. It also utilizes citizen volunteers to make transcriptions of otherwise illegible documents and recordings in the Smithsonian Archive, in order to make them easier for people with disabilities and impairments to access. For example, you could be in charge of transcripting letters from Charles Perrault to Anne Tapissier, discussing an upcoming art exhibition at the Château de Nemours. To ensure all transcriptions are as accurate as possible, multiple volunteers can work at once on the same page or item, and all transcriptions must be reviewed by a peer. The documents are very interesting to read through! You can find the center at https://transcription.si.edu/

-Vaidehi B.

5th Annual Harry Potter Trivia by MVL: July 30, 2021

Hello trivia enthusiasts! I hope you all enjoyed the fun, zoom-based, summer season of pop culture trivia series, hosted by Mission Viejo Library. In case you didn’t get a chance to participate this year, make sure to keep a lookout for all future trivia hosted by Mission Viejo Library. They are super fun, engaging and the questions really challenge your knowledge in a fun way. Our energetic trivia host makes the activity more thrilling.

Mission Viejo Library saved the best for the last. Our 4th and final summer trivia, hosted on July 30, 2021, was also our 5th Annual Harry Potter Trivia. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable trivia host covered the depths of the Harry Potter world. The trivia was designed in three rounds. Every round had 12 mind-boggling questions.  The host went through every round twice: once for the questions and once again for the answers.

Here are some of the questions he covered. See if you can guess them!

Round 1:

1. Name all the Weasleys from oldest to youngest.

  • Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny

2. What is the Dursleys’ address?

  • 4 Privet Drive

3. How many staircases does Hogwarts have?

  • 142 staircases 

Round 2:

1. Name all seven ingredients that create the Polyjuice Potion.

  • Lacewing flies, leeches, powdered Bicorn horn, knotgrass, fluxweed, shredded Boomslang skin, and a bit of the person you want to turn into.

2. Which spell is also known as the Thief’s Friend?

  • Alohomora

3. How much does a ticket for the Knight Bus cost if you include a cup of hot chocolate?

  • 14 Sickles

Round 3:

1. During Harry’s sixth year in Hogwarts, who is the instructor that taught the Apparition class?

  • Wilkie Tycross

2. Which ice cream flavor did Harry eat at the zoo when he went out with the Dursleys?

  • Lemon Ice Pop

3. What is the name of Draco Malfoy’s son?

  • Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy

Our Summer Trivia Program is now complete! If you joined us in any or all of the trivias, we hope you enjoyed it! If you missed it, come back next year! Hopefully we can even meet in person next year! 

-Anya P.

Name That Tune: Disney Edition by MVL: July 23, 2021

Hello trivia enthusiasts! I am sure you were enjoying the fun, zoom-based, summer season of pop culture trivia series, hosted by Mission Viejo Library. 

Our 3rd trivia, hosted on July 23, Name that Tune: Disney Edition was as exciting as it sounds. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable trivia host covered an array of nostalgic Disney movie tunes. The trivia was designed in three rounds. Every round had 10 mind scintillating tunes. The host played every tune three times for the trivia enthusiasts. The host went through every round twice: once for the clips and once again for the answers. If the attendees didn’t know the tunes, they had an option of guessing the movie name. Our generous host then challenged his audience more with a bonus round based on Disney TV tunes. The bonus round had 4 questions and had the same rules as the regular rounds.

Here are some of nostalgic tunes/ movies he covered:

  • “When will my life begin”: TANGLED
  • “Almost there”: PRINCESS AND THE FROG
  • “Un Poco Loco”: COCO
  • “Kiss the girl”: LITTLE MERMAID
  • “You’re Welcome”: MOANA
  • “You can Fly”: PETER PAN
  • “Everyone wants to be a cat”: THE ARISTOCATS
  • “Friend like me”: ALADDIN
  • “Topsy Turvy”: THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
  • “Theme song”: PHINEAS AND FERB

I would totally recommend participating in fun family friendly events like these!

-Anya P.

Heroes and Villains Trivia by MVL, July 16, 2021

Hello readers! I hope you have already read my writeup on the first of the four zoom-based Summer Trivia Programs hosted by Mission Viejo Library in July 2021. By now, I hope you know how exciting and fun this summer season of pop culture trivia was!

Today I am writing about the second zoom based Trivia night that I attended on July 16, 2021. It was about Heroes and Villains! It consisted of some fun trivia questions from some of my favorite movies from Marvel and more: the Iron Man series, the Spider-Man series, the Batman series, and the Harry Potter series.

These were some of the questions. See if you can guess the answers yourself before checking the answers:

  1. In the film Captain America: The First Avenger, what is the name of the top secret project that turned Steve Rogers into a super soldier?
    • Project Rebirth
  2. In the Back to the Future trilogy, Marty McFly is antagonized by a member of the Tannen family. Name each iteration as they appear in the trilogy?
    • Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen, and Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen
  3. Which Hogwarts instructor was revealed to have erased the minds of witches and wizards while taking credit for their accomplishments?
    • Gilderoy Lockhart
  4. What is Dr. Octopus’ real name?
    • Otto Octavius
  5. S.T.A.R. Labs has a prominent role in numerous DC properties. What does S.T.A.R. stand for?
    • Scientific and Technological Advanced Research

These were some of the many fun questions we got to answer! The trivia nights consist of 3 rounds, and each round has 12 questions.

-Anya P.

Special Feature: Face Mask Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to make a facemask. Hopefully making these will help protect us while keeping the important PPE to the medical workers who really need it. This design was made by me and is in no way made to replace a real surgical mask or n95. However, for the everyday citizen who does eventually have to venture to the grocery store and leave the house, these are great for an extra line of defense. 

These can be made with any type of fabric however, the CDC recommends cotton, and 100% quilters cotton seems to have the tightest weave, giving the most protection. Though, any cotton t-shirt will also do. 

For this design, I choose to not make a pocket for a filter. This was a personal decision and some may feel safer with a pocket. However, the HEPA filters which many are using for their filters, contain fiberglass which when breathed in can damage the lungs. So, even the maker of these filters is not advising consumers to use them for masks. There is a possibility that it will be dangerous. 

This design was made with help from my father who is an MD however, this is in no way certified, I just used his opinion as he is someone who wears facemasks often. As well, he wears glasses so, these were designed to specifically NOT fog up glasses. They are also made to be as comfortable as possible for long time wear. So, this design may take longer to make than many out there. But, this was for a reason. As many of us are making them for our friends and family to reuse over and over again until this pandemic is over, I believed that spending some extra time on the masks to make them comfortable was important. For, if the masks are not comfortable, we will not want to wear them. So these will take some time to make. Especially the first time. Most of those tutorials online are not as fast as they seem. 

As a side note, I choose to make fabric straps. These are the most comfortable for long time wear. However, these can easily be changed out for elastic or other straps for those who do not want to spend the time to make them. 

So, if this seems like the design for you, here are the steps. I tried to make them as comprehensible as possible. As I know many of the tutorials out there are not user friendly for those who do not have a large amount of sewing experience. 

Continue reading

Why a Met on Demand Subscription is Better Than Any Other Streaming Service

Have you heard of the Met Opera on Demand streaming service?! Let’s be real, probably not. But I know many people who have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to stream from… so I think this is might interest y’all, teens! It’s award-winning, recent, full length, HD performances from the Metropolitan Opera House. And it’s the best thing ever. Stop using Netflix. Cancel that Hulu subscription. Forget your Amazon Prime password. This is all you need in your life right now. Here’s why the Met Opera on Demand is better than any other streaming service.

1. You Can Learn a New Language

Operas are in English, Italian, French, German, and loads more languages! They have subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, and Swedish! Opera is slow and repetitive, so it’s a great way to learn languages! If you’re learning German, for example, it might be useful to have English subtitles on an opera like Die Zauberflöte (which side note is a beautiful production… it’s just so pretty to watch, it’s like watching a moving painting). You’ll understand all the German being sung with the English subtitles, and some new vocab might stick in your brain if it’s being sung in a catchy tune over and over. I think learning a language through song is a great way to learn new vocabulary, and get an ear for the language. “Comic operas” like Die Zauberflöte and Carmen even have spoken dialogue. The opera singers’ pronunciation is amazing when singing and speaking!

2. You Can Learn History

Opera loves to take place in ancient times, and tries to be as authentic to the time period as possible! When learning history, sometimes it’s hard to picture the time period. Watching an opera in the time period you’re learning about really helps you picture what you’re learning. Also, many operas are based on true stories. For example, there are three operas about Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress who mysteriously died in 1730. Or Boris Godunov, an opera about real events in 1584 surrounding a real Russian tsar. Or Doctor Atomic! It’s an opera about the test of the first atomic bomb. And all of these have full HD videos of the performances! There’s so much history to learn with this subscription.

3. You Can Learn About Books

Reading Shakespeare in school and struggling to picture the action? Well, Met on Demand has you covered! HamletMacbethA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more are full-length operas that come with this subscription!

Der Ring des Nibelungen (although Tolkein denies it) is the basis for The Lord of the Rings. Don’t believe me?! Watch it on Met on Demand to see the shocking similarities.

The opera Marnie is based on the book that inspired the Hitchcock classic of the same name. (the 60s movie where the lady gets stabbed in the shower to strings going EEK EEK EEK).

There is also audio of operas based on The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy, which are books titled of the same name.

If you look up the operas on the website, I’m sure you can find more book-related stuff.

4. It’s Relaxing

The Met’s performances are beautiful. The performances are visually dazzling, and the singing is world-renowned. It’s a nice thing to just have on quietly in the background. If the stunning video is too much, there are recordings dating back

-Jessica F.

Film Review: A Star is Born (2018)

So, I know I’m late to the A Star is Born party, but I do see what all the buzz was about. Before I get into the thick of this review, there are a couple warnings I need to distribute. First, this movie is R-Rated, and if you’re uncomfortable with that, then you should stop reading now. Additionally, if you are triggered by mentions as well as depictions of suicide, this review is not for you; people who are triggered or uncomfortable with detailed depictions of alcohol/drug abuse should also stop reading here.

A Star is Born (2018) is the third remake of a film released in 1937. The other remakes were released in 1954 and 1976. While they all have pretty similar storylines, there are slight differences and variances between all of them. The story itself is seemingly cliche: seasoned and successful musician/actor accidentally meets struggling young musician/actor, the seasoned artist helps young artist gain fame and success. The seasoned artist’s career dwindles due to drugs and alcohol, which he abused due to deeply rooted issues stemming from an alcoholic absentee father; meanwhile, the young artist’s career skyrockets, and she is ecstatic, until tragedy strikes.

The decline of his career becomes too much for the seasoned musician/actor, and he falls deeper and deeper into the pit of drug abuse. His young lover does her best to dig him out and help him, but it becomes a bigger and bigger problem, until he can’t take it anymore, and ends his own life. This begins a new chapter for the young star, who now has to navigate the cruel world of the elite on her own, all while heartless things are being said about her late lover.

Overall, this movie was an emotional roller-coaster, and I strongly recommend it if you want to vent some of your own emotions by crying and blame it on a movie. However, if you don’t really feel like being emotionally wrecked over a movie, I would not suggest watching A Star is Born (2018). But nonetheless, I loved it. Also, I love Lady Gaga. Her performance was absolutely stunning.

-Arushi S. 

A Star Is Born, starring Bradly Cooper and Lady Gaga, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library