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Wondering how to help after a tragic news story? This bot might have the answer.

Technology is coming through for us all in a big way in the age of Trump.

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it makes total sense if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am too.

Hurricane recovery, wildfires ripping along the West Coast, rising tensions with North Korea, repeated threats to the state of health care in this country, trans people being banned from the military, people from other countries being banned from traveling here, Title IX protections being reinterpreted, environmental protections being gutted, professional sports becoming a divisive topic — the list goes on and on.

Maybe one of these causes really hits home for you. Maybe you want to help, but don't know where to even start. I hear that, and as someone who is both plugged into current events and prone to anxiety attacks when presented with complicated situations, getting involved can be really overwhelming.


I've turned to robots for help. Yes, robots.

A slew of new chatbots have come out in the past year or so, and they're really useful for people, like me, who are feeling overwhelmed by the world around them.

Some chatbots, such as infinite conversation application Cleverbot, are little more than novelties, but others are actually improving lives in tangible ways.

DoNotPay is a chatbot that started out as a way to automatically challenge parking tickets in court, but now includes the ability to sue Equifax in the wake of its massive data breach. Other bots, such as 5 Calls and Resistbot, make contacting your representatives in Congress a breeze.

One of the newest chatbots I've added to my life recently is called Hope.

When you open up the app's chat dialogue in your phone's browser, you're presented with a handful of the day's top stories. Tell it which one you're curious about, and it will ask if you're interested in getting more context, want links to more detailed sources, or it gives you the option of learning how you can help.

The interface is simple, feels natural, and makes for a pretty smooth user experience for chatbot power-users as well as relative newbies. I was drawn in by its ability to distill overwhelming events into single action items. For example, if you select the "How can I help?" option when reading about recovery in Puerto Rico, you'll be prompted to donate to either the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit currently being promoted by Lin-Manuel Miranda, or Bethenny Frankel's B Strong initiative. Clicking "Donate" takes you directly to the individual charities' websites.

"Sometimes we'll see a really cool action [people can take] tied to a news story and build it out from there," says Marisa Kabas, Hope's editorial director, describing the process as a bit of a "chicken and egg" situation.

One thing Kabas and her team ask themselves before highlighting a story on Hope is whether there's actually something people can do with the news item. In other words, it's unlikely you'll see much about Trump's tweets or the controversy in reaction to those tweets on Hope. Kabas says that those types of stories are "just adding to the noise" and are often unproductive.

While the simplicity and narrow focus of Hope is one of its strengths, it's also one of the bot's biggest weaknesses, as its "help" options are currently limited to a somewhat sparse selection of topics. Still, if you're feeling stressed, but interested in finding out how to get involved in a specific cause, Hope is a pretty solid first place to check.

Whether you're looking for a new way to consume news, contact your representatives, or take action, there's probably a chatbot out there for you.

Maybe, like me, you're easily overwhelmed by what Kabas refers to as "the noise," the superfluous-yet-predictable result of a 24-hour news and entertainment media. Or maybe, like so many of us, you're just really busy and don't have time to tackle every thing happening in the world all at once.

The bots mentioned above are great because they do a lot of the work for you, helping you be informed while giving you real, tangible things you can do to make your life even just a little bit easier.

Disclaimer: We were not paid to promote any of the products mentioned in this article. We just thought they were pretty cool.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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