Have 5 minutes? Playing with these apps actually makes other people's lives better.
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Let's face it: There are a lot of silly smartphone apps out there. A lot. ‌

Enjoy Toilet Paper is an app that allows you to roll digital toilet paper — that's it. Is It Dark Outside? solves a problem you could figure out by peeking out a window (or actually going outside). Send Me to Heaven is an app that asks you to throw your phone as high into the air as humanly possible, AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO IT.

A man succumbing to frustration or merely partaking in the latest app fad? GIF via "Entourage."


But the converse is also true: With as little effort as it takes to swipe right on a potential love match or tweet our thoughts on the weekend's football games, we can easily create positive social change.

It sounds corny, I know, but there are actually dozens of apps that make contributing to the world around you just a click away. Here are five of them.

1. Budge

Are you someone who yearns for the attention of a crowd? A truth-or-dare fanatic, maybe? Or are you simply looking to feed your gambling addiction without all of that pesky guilt? Well then is Budge ever the app for you!

Budge is a game that turns the sense of competitiveness that friends and family members often share into an act of philanthropy. Users challenge a friend to anything they can imagine: a race, an impromptu game of trivia, a bare-knuckle boxing match (What? Some of us have really competitive friends.) — with the stipulation that the loser must donate an agreed-upon amount to a charity of the winner's choosing.

Image via iStock.

2. Give 2 Charity

Being that most of us have become attached at the hip (or hand) to our smartphones, you'd think an app that actually converts our phone usage into cold, hard cash would be a foregone conclusion by now. And thanks to the folks over at Give 2 Charity, it is.

Utilizing the location-tracking systems used by everything from Google Maps to Pokémon Go, Give 2 Charity monitors the amount of time you spend carrying or using your phone and transforms it into charitable donations. Every moment you're on the move with your phone is converted into points — 1,500 points earns $2. 3,000 points earns $5, and so forth — which can then be donated to the charity of your choice. Donating to a cause has literally never been easier.

Image via iStock.

3. Donate a Photo

The only thing more certain than the smartphone user's love of texting fire emojis to their crew is their love of taking pictures. Many of us live in a constant stream of live updates from our friends where no memory goes unsaved or unshared, and the people at Johnson & Johnson have figured out a way to turn this fascination with documentation into a charitable effort.

Simply dubbed Donate a Photo, this app (available on both Android and iOS) donates a dollar toward the cause or charity of your choosing for every photo that you donate through the app (up to one a day). Signup is as easy as connecting to the app through your Facebook or Twitter profile, and Donate a Photo will even provide you with an optional list of causes to donate to. Looks like those 4,300 pictures of your sleeping cat won't go to waste after all.

4. Feedie

Did you read over the description of Donate a Photo and think to yourself, "That's a great idea, but what if I wanted to replace the cat photos with photos of my food?" FEEDIE. THAT'S HOW.

Though only based in New York at the moment, Feedie is a groundbreaking app that allows the frequent photographers of food — foodstagrammers — to use their love of food to help those who don't have access to adequate meals. Simply download the app on iOS, take a photo of your food at any of the participating restaurants, and an entire meal will be donated to a nonprofit organization feeding schoolchildren in South Africa through the Lunchbox Fund.

Image via iStock.

Finally, an app that makes watching your pizza go cold as your friend struggles to find the proper lighting for a photo all worth it!

5. Charity Miles

If I have learned anything from the hundreds of Fitbit commercials I have watched from my couch, the best way to motivate someone is to present them with some sort of chart or metric of their progress. Something as regularly banal as how many steps per day you take instantly becomes a video game score when a physical number is placed on it, and Charity Miles mixes this kind of competitive fitness and philanthropy into one incredible concept. Fitlanthropy, I've decided to call it.

Image via Charity Miles, used with permission.

Again, the genius is in the simplicity: Charity Miles simply combines the tracking technology of a Fitbit — or any pedometer app, really — with cold, hard cash. All you have to do is download the app and take off, and Charity Miles will donate 25 cents for each mile you run (or 10 cents for every mile you bike) to one of over 35 charity organizations it's partnering with.

There's always a way to help out a person in need.

Thanks to the globe-spanning technological capabilities at our fingertips, it's become easier than ever before. So if we can find the time each day to take a photo, go for a run, or even click on our phone, then there's nothing stopping us from making a significant difference in the world.

It'll be less dangerous than playing Pokémon Go, in any case.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...in the most delightful way.

There are certain songs from kids' movies that most of us can sing along to, but we often don't know how they originated. Now we have a timely insight into one such song—"A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins."

It's common for parents to try all kinds of tricks to get kids to take medications they don't want to take, but the inspiration for "A Spoonful of Sugar" was much more specific. Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers—the musical duo responsible not just for "Mary Poppins," but a host of Disney films including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," as well as the song "It's a Small World After All"—told the story of how "A Spoonful of Sugar" came about on Facebook.

He wrote:

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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Blackface has a long and shameful history in this country. We think—we hope—after numerous call-outs and emotional explanations, Americans get the message: blackface is not okay. But that isn't the case, as many were re-made painfully aware, when Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a professor and critically acclaimed writer, shared the shocking auditory version of her new essay, "Da Art of Speculatin'", on Twitter.

Due to outrageous oversight, Fireside—a progressively minded short-story magazine who claim, in their About page, to resist "the global rise of fascism and far-right populism"—hired a young, white male voice actor to read and record Bradley's essay—an essay that identifies its writer, in its very first line, as a "southern Black woman who stands in the long shadow of the Civil Rights Movement."

According to the Washington Post, Rineer spoke in an accent that listeners interpreted as something that would appear in minstrel show, an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, in which white people lampooned Black people, often portraying them as dim-witted and buffoonish, with stock characters including the dandy, the slave, and the 'mammy.' It's incredibly, incredibly offensive. So it's no wonder that, upon hearing the clip, a horrified Bradley fired off an outraged tweet, asking Fireside and Rineer if they honestly thought this is what she sounded like.



How could something so offensive have been approved, one wonders, especially in a year defined by reckoning with racial injustice? For the answer, look to Pablo Defendini, the publisher and editor for Fireside, who claimed, "nothing insidious in his decision… he just didn't listen to the recording before posting it."

"The blame for this rests squarely with me, as the person who hires out and manages the audio production process at Fireside," Defendini said in a statement. "In the interest of remaining a lean operation, I've been hiring one narrator to record the audio for a whole issue's worth of Fireside Quarterly, and I don't normally break out specific stories or essays for narrating by particular individuals."

"My personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well."

As for Rineer, he regrets not breaking a contract rule and contacting Bradley directly about her work. His gut instinct told him not to proceed—that he was the wrong person for the job. Still, upon expressing his doubts to Fireside, he was ignored, and so proceeded with the recording—he'd already signed the contract.

"I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley's work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice," he said. "I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had."

As for Bradley, Defendini's apology isn't cutting it. "Not listening" isn't an excuse—it's deepening the wound. Black Women have been "not listened" to since the dawn of this nation's founding.

"I am angry," she wrote. "Seething from centuries of silenced Black women angry."