Top of the List: 'The Voice' sings tribute to Sandy Hook victims, gender-free oven, & bad weather

On December 18, these were the top headlines people were talking about.

1) VOICES OF HOPE: The reality show “The Voice” started off their show on Monday night with a stirring tribute to the 26 victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Judges and contestants held white cards with each victim's name while singing the haunting song "Hallelujah."

They aren't the only ones tributing the town. You know her as "Six" the best friend on "Blossom," but what you may not know about Jenna Von Oy is that she's from Newtown. In a blog post for People Magazine, the actress wrote about her hometown,

"It is where I attended my first day of kindergarten, learned to ride my bike and climbed my first tree,"

Von Oy was married in Newtown in 2010 and just a few months ago, her daughter was christened there.

2) FREEDOM: NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his four man team were taken hostage in Syria last Thursday. On Tuesday morning, after a firefight between the captors and Syrian rebels, all of the men were released unharmed.

“They kept us blindfolded and bound. We weren't physically beaten or tortured; just a lot of psychological torture,” said Engel.  “They made us choose which one of us would be shot first.”

Engel has been covering the war in Syria since 2011.

3) GRUMPY OLD MAN WINTER: Powerful storms are punishing the US from coast to coast. In Tacoma, Washington 100 mile an hour winds knocked a tree through the roof over a baby's nursery. It barely missed his crib.

This week the East Coast is looking at two inches of rain, and tornadoes are expected in the south.

4) DOOMSDAY PAYDAY: Doomsday shelters are flying off the shelves in anticipation of the world ending on December 21.  Many people are heeding the Mayans' warning and prepping.  Some are buying generators while others loading up on water and freeze dried food.

5) EASY BAKE OVEN GENDER: The Easy Bake Oven is not just for girls.  Thanks to a 13-year-old, Hasbo is cooking up some big changes to the toy.

McKenna Pope petitioned for a gender neutral oven on behalf of her little brother. More than 40,000 joined in her quest and now she’s getting her wish.  There will be a new silver and black model in 2013. And the new packaging will show boys as well as girls.

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