App users go the distance for charity

App users go the distance for charity

By Isabella Jackson

From pieing pre-med students to bounce house fundraisers, campus organizations provide many platforms to raise money for charity throughout the year. But only a few are powered by human movement. 

Charity Miles, a free app available for both Apple and Android phones, donates money to a charity of the user’s choice for every mile that is recorded during a workout. 

Samantha George, junior in LAS, is the philanthropy chair for the University’s chapter of the American Medical Student Association, AMSA. George’s duties include planning events to raise money for both local and national charities. George said AMSA is harnessing new technology in its philanthropic work by using the Charity Miles app to raise additional funds for Habitat for Humanity. 

According to Charity Miles’ website, the app donates 25 cents for every mile walked or ran and 10 cents for every mile biked – up to $1 million from an initial sponsorship pool that was aside for the app by companies and corporations. For people that frequently walk to destinations or spend time working out, the app is a way to donate to charity without spending any money themselves.

“On a campus where you have to walk everywhere; it’s good to harness that to do good,” George said. 

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    With a campus that spans more than 7.1 square miles, students walk to class, meetings, residence halls and apartments, sometimes logging greater distances than they are aware of. 

    “You don’t realize how much you walk and how much work you put forth,” George said. “I know a lot of people that turn on the app in the morning and don’t look at it until the end of the day, and by that point they’ve walked five miles or so.” 

    George said the app can also motivate users to have a more healthy and physically fit lifestyle. 

    “It’s a low key way to remind yourself to walk to class instead of taking the bus or something because you know it’s helping others,” George said. 

    Although walking, running and biking are the three official settings on the app, the Charity Miles website states that “skipping, skating, hopping, rolling and all other human-propelled activities are perfectly acceptable.” 

    George said the app reminds her to get a healthy amount of exercise during the day because when she feels like skipping a workout, she thinks about the charities that she is raising money for and becomes more motivated. 

    “Sometimes I don’t really make the time to work out, it’s good to have this to help,” she said. 

    According to the app’s website, it asks users for permission to use their cell phone’s geolocation services. When users give permission, the phone can record their position and the distance they have traveled during a workout. George said that in her experience using the app, it has worked well and measured the distance accurately. If there is an area that the phone cannot register a strong GPS signal, the app will send a notification in case a runner or walker wants to move to an area with a stronger signal. 

    “The cool thing about it is that it uses the GPS tracking and the accelerometer in your phone to keep track of where you are and make sure you aren’t cheating,” George said. 

    When the weather does not cooperate, there are also settings for indoor walking and running, so users can record the miles that they have gone on a treadmill.

    The AMSA team has already logged 225 miles, or about $50, since the beginning of the school year, and George said she hopes to double that by the end of the semester. Although the money seems like a small amount, George said that the little things do contribute to a larger goal. 

    According to Jennifer Kraak, senior in AHS, AMSA has around 100 members, and 26 of them use the app to fundraise. 

    George said that she hopes other groups and individuals on campus will start using the app and work to raise funds for their favorite charities. 

    The app’s website lists more than 30 charities where money can be donated. Some, like the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Alzheimer’s Association, are focused on health causes and eradicating disease, while others work to support American veterans and the homeless. International charities such as She’s the First and (RED) are also on the list. 

    “It’s a really simple way to keep track of yourself and donate money at the same time,” George said. “I mean, why wouldn’t you want to do this?”

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