Poverty and homelessness are prominent issues in many communities around the globe. In these communities, there are charities to help mitigate these issues; however, charities often find themselves with a lack of donations or a lack of their most needed items. This issue is due to the fact that the general population is uninformed in regards to the items charities need the most and where, when, and how to begin donating. We saw these issues in our local community and, as a result, we created Carachute. Carachute strives to make information about charities’ needs more accessible to the public by raising awareness of local poverty and making donating critical resources more convenient.

What It Does

Carachute, a unique android application, is the only app that instantaneously connects charities to their volunteers, or Carers. It also provides a security feature to authenticate registered charities to maximize peace of mind. A prioritized list feature enables charities to create a list of their most direly needed donations. When charities add new items to their list all Carers following them are instantly alerted. Carers search charities and follow their favorites.

How We Built It

We first created a paper prototype and pseudocode to layout the app. Then, we used MIT App Inventor in conjunction with Firebase to make our app.

Challenges We Ran Into

We ran into challenges when it came to finding a suitable private database that works with app inventor. After searching through different types of databases, we found that Firebase allows us to store user information in a protected, private database. We also struggled with creating the following and alerts feature, as we had to work with the information of multiple users and charities. However, after working through our code step-by-step multiple times we found a solution and created functional features.

Accomplishments That We're Proud Of

We're proud of the notification feature that sends a text to all followers for every few changes to the charity's list. We're also proud of the charity's prioritized list feature because of its intuitive design that allows items to be added, delete, and replaced at certain list positions. We also accomplished a follow and unfollow feature that allows carers, or users, to follow their favorite charities and only receive alerts from those charities. Carers can unfollow charities to stop receiving alerts.

What We Learned

Through our extensive time with MIT App Inventor, we improved our coding abilities and strengthened our grasp of computer science principles. We also learned how to set up a database and store and retrieve formatted information within it.

What's Next For Carachute

Our next move is to complete the PayPal feature which will allow charities to pay Carachute to become verified charities. It will also open the payment feature to donors who would like to donate money to the charities of their choice. After we solidify this feature, we would like to put Carachute on the Google Play store and create and iOS version of the application as well.

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