While school is online and many extracurriculars are canceled, some Midpeninsula students are reporting they have more time on their hands.
And a few are putting their extra time — and website coding skills — to use in hopes of serving the community.
Gathering food donations
Students in Palo Alto High School's Social Justice Pathway organized a food drive on Wednesday, April 29, and Saturday, May 2, to benefit the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto. Anyone interested in participating can do so by filling out this form.
The items most in need are bottled water and gift certificates to Costco, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy and Target.
The teens planned to gear up in personal protective equipment and pick up food donations from doorsteps in Palo Alto at addresses provided through the form.
Children throughout the Bay Area can receive free virtual music lessons through a group of teens organized under the name QuaranTunes, which is encouraging students' parents to sit down with their child to determine how much the lesson should have cost and donate that amount to the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Julia Segal, 16, of Palo Alto, was inspired to start the group by her 10-year-old sister, who helped her recognize that children can get restless while staying at home.
"With all the free time we have on our hands now due to COVID-19, this is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill from the comfort of your own home!" Segal wrote on the group's website.
A link to the fundraiser can be found here.
Supporting 'essential heroes'
A group of Gunn High School students has started a new nonprofit, The Essential Heroes Campaign, which seeks to recognize essential workers in the community.
Through an online fundraiser on GoFundMe, the group has collected more than $2,000 as of Monday evening to provide hospital workers with food purchased from local businesses. The funds also will be used to collect materials to produce personal protective equipment such as face masks and visor frames through 3D printers.
Ari Libova, a freshman at Mountain View High School, teamed up with her godfather to create a website, makefor.us, which connects people who need masks with people who make masks. It also allows people to donate funds to pay for masks for those in need.
"My mom works in nursing and she always talks about how little supplies there are," Libova said.
There's demand for masks, and there's also high unemployment. People who have the skills to sew could make some money by making masks, she said.
"I thought that would just help everybody," she said.
Since the website launched a little over a week ago, she said, it has helped fill about 10 orders.There are already about 20 makers across the U.S. registered to make masks. Many requests have been coming from New York and North Carolina, Libova said.
MakeXPaloAlto, a group of Gunn and Palo Alto high school students, is doing its part in the effort to increase the supply of personal protective equipment by producing one critical item: face shields.
Working with the community and other makerspaces, the group's goal is to produce 20,000 face masks through 3D printers. The group has recruited about a dozen Palo Altans to join the effort and is looking to build its numbers.
Learn more at makexpaloalto.org/covid-19.
Tree Tutors, comprised of Stanford University students, is offering high school students tutoring services in 34 subjects, including Advanced Placement courses, SAT preparation and college applications. Over the past few weeks, the group has served about 300 people who have been matched to about 150 Stanford students in need of work.
For every two paid sessions, Tree Tutors provides a free hour of tutoring to a student who qualifies for a free or reduced lunch. The group is also working on a free series of videos on resources available for high schoolers planning to go to college and the students' experiences at Stanford, among other topics.
Beyond the Book, founded by a group of high school-aged students at Castilleja School, seeks to help children in grades K-8 with free one-on-one online studying and mentorship sessions that last 30 minutes. The group covers subjects such as reading, math, language, special projects and creativity.
The children are matched with high schoolers based on their grade, subject and availability.
As of Monday, the group has reached more than 200 families over the course of three weeks and is working on partnerships with multiple school districts.
In lieu of payments for the sessions, the group is collecting donations through a GoFundMe page for First Book, a nonprofit that provides educational resources to children in need.
High school students — especially those who have driver's licenses and access to wheels — can be uniquely useful to those in need right now, said Roo Joshi, a junior at Mountain View High and one of those lucky license holders.
Healthy teens so far are among those least likely to develop health complications from COVID-19 – though the risk is by no means zero.
With school taking place online, some students have more downtime — and desire to get out of the house — than they might under non-pandemic conditions.
Joshi, with friends Daniela Shapiro and Izzy Ge, created a website to pair volunteers with people who have errands to run but aren't comfortable leaving their homes.
The program is initially focused on helping people with grocery shopping and deliveries.
Kate Bradshaw writes for the Mountain View Voice, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com. Palo Alto Online Digital Editor Jamey Padojino contributed to this report.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.