After analyzing the results of a survey our group created, we realized that users were more likely to donate to a cause after some sort of tragic event occurred. Our group wanted to empower users with an easy way to donate to the causes they believe in and support, with all of the information they need to successfully do so.

What it does

Helping Hand provides users with breaking news events from around the US. Users are then provided with a list of charitable groups related to the recent events that have occurred in the US. Helping Hand allows users to immediately donate to groups right through the app using Apple-Pay. Our group also created an Alexa Skill and a Google Home Skill to aid users in donating money to charity verbally.

How we built it

Our group first used the NewsAPI to gather the news articles related to major breakout events occurring in the US. We then obtained information about various charities, covering a wide scope of issues (ranging from poverty to LGBT rights). With information about each article and charitable organization, Helping Hand links a charity to each major event, so that users know exactly where they can donate to contribute to a certain cause.

Challenges we ran into

Our group had no prior experience with creating an Alexa Skill. We had to learn dialogFlow basics and learn how to integrate the Firebase Real-time Database into our Alexa responses. Initially, we had trouble finding news sources because not all news articles had corresponding charities. However, we were able to filter the news articles to only include those that had a charity connection.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We were able to use Apple-Pay in the app which allows for a quick and easy payment method for the user. In addition, we were able to provide the users with recent news articles of tragic events and ways of how to help out. The Alexa skill we developed also allows users to learn about different charitable organizations as well as make payments to the charities by communicating with Alexa.

What we learned

The challenges we ran into ultimately led to learning experiences. Our group came out with a fundamental understanding of dialogFlow and how to successfully create an Alexa Skill. We also were able to understand how to use the NewsAPI and successfully implemented it in our app.

What's next for Helping Hand

One of the results of our survey indicated that many users are interested in some sort of volunteering opportunity. In the future, Helping Hand will aim to provide its users with volunteer opportunities so that individuals can make a difference that impacts the community in a positive way.

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