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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Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

A woman named Lisa posted a video on Facebook where she shared "the easiest way to make spaghetti for a crowd" as "you don't have to worry about dishes or a mess." I know there are a lot of people out there who love cooking a large Italian meal for family get-togethers, so it's incredible that Lisa discovered a way to do so without filling the dishwasher with a billion dishes.

It's also pretty amazing that she decided to share it with us.

In the video, Lisa explains that this is how "real Italians" cook for a large family gathering. What's really interesting is that she didn't have to cut corners with her recipe being that it's made for easy clean-up. It truly appears to be made with fresh, authentic Italian ingredients.

She even tops off the recipe with a salad made with Italian-style dressing. So you know it's authentic.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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