After a big natural disaster, many people want to help out by donating used items they no longer need. However, this can be ending up very harmful because these items take up storage space and sorting time. For example, 67,000 teddy bears were donated to the children of Newton, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook shooting which filled an entire warehouse. When Hurricane Mitch hit the Honduras, a plane of supplies was unable to land due to the surplus of used clothing, including winter coats which were highly unsuitable for the area during summer, were crowding the runway. Cash donations are always most appreciated but we feel that currently people aren't motivated to donate cash because they don't fully understand the impact of how their cash donations can help with disaster relief. To solve this issue we made a product registry which translates for users what items or services their cash donations are contributing towards, such as liters of drinkable water or hours of volunteer training. This way, a tangible real-world impact can be felt through cash donations and helps to support disaster relief efforts in a manner that helps them the most effectively.

What It Does

It shows natural disasters that have happened in the past few years, where they are, and areas they have affected. Upon clicking on a given disaster, it gives a description of the event and then shows the items that are needed for this disaster's relief efforts. Users can then add a given item to their cart and check out, placing an order and sending these items to those who need it. The user history is stored in a profile page so that they can write off their charitable donations as tax refunds, in hopes to incentivize donating to these urgent causes even more.

How We Built It

The front end web page was built using CSS, HTML and Bootstrap. To gain the information on natural disasters, we found a database updated by the UN called "ReliefWeb," that was able to provide us information about the disaster type, affected countries, and dates.

Challenges We Ran Into

Our team was composed of 3 front-end devs and 2 first-year hackers. As such, we were very lacking on back-end experience going into this project. We decided to split up the workload in a way that felt most manageable and in a way that all members could learn from the project. The 2 first-year hackers, Chianna and Mira, helped to contribute to setting up the front-end of the website using HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap. They had never worked with these technologies before. The other front-end devs, Cari, Becca, and Cam had never worked with databases, retrieving the information from said databases, and parsing the data to fit our needs. We ran into many issues finding an easy-to-use and suitable database for our purposes of populating the natural disasters on our donation feed. Easy-to-use APIs or databases which covered all global natural disasters took quite some time to find. After deciding upon using ReliefWeb's API, we encountered many issues calling HTTP requests to the server using JavaScript functions. With the help of mentors, research, and many hours of diligence, we successfully managed to populate the donation field dynamically using data from the ReliefWeb database.

What's Next for Relief Registry

In the future, we would like to add multiple ways to discover natural disasters to donate to. Some possible methods of increase content discovery would be

  • a "trending" section to show disaster relief funds which have almost reached their donation goal
  • a "search by location" section to show disasters based on location
  • a "search by disaster type" section to filter results

We hope that these additions would help encourage users to contribute and learn more about ongoing disasters.

Team Members

Becca Malcolm, Cari Liu, Cam Perry, Chianna Cohen, Mira Sachdeva

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