Angels Nearby Angels Nearby The Angels Nearby app allows you to connect locally with people in your community in need of a helping hand. (Photo: Tyler Olson /Shutterstock)

Angels Nearby connects people in need with local helping hands

New app aims to add a layer of good will to social media that strengthens community bonds.

From last-minute pet sitting for an unexpected trip to that one power tool you're lacking to complete a fix-it job around the house, we've all found ourselves in situations where we've run out of options for help. But what if sending out a personal bat signal was as simple as a few swipes on your smartphone? What if your hero to the rescue was only a block or room number away?

That's the idea behind the Israel-based startup Angels Nearby, a smartphone app that connects people in need with those willing to lend a hand in their community. Think of it as a high-tech approach to the old-fashioned neighborly gesture of lending sugar or a cup of milk. Missing that one important spice to complete your Mediterranean dinner party? Open the app, select the appropriate category, type in the name of what you're lacking, and wait to see if anyone nearby might be able to assist. Angels Nearby uses your "Trust Level" settings (Facebook friends, friends of friends, users with high ratings, etc.), as well as your location preferences (ie; within 15 minutes or two miles) to connect with those volunteering to help.

Angels NearbyIn the Angels Nearby app, you choose categories to both assist with and receive help in. (Photo: Angels Nearby)

After only a few months online, Angels Nearby already had several thousand users – with nearly all embracing dual roles of helping and occasionally asking in return. The app is unlike others in the digital landscape because of its ability to connect not only online, but also in person – strengthening local communities in ways other forms of social media sometimes fall short. Unlike other service-oriented apps, it's not centered around payment, with acts of kindness the only currency exchanged.

In an interview with the PodNutz Android podcast, Angels Nearby CEO Charly Setbon said that while the app's initial launch community focused on Israel, the company is now making a push to build communities in the U.S. and India. The most common requests he's seen include free rides, people giving away previously enjoyed goods, students seeking textbooks from other students, and even people looking for running companions.

"This is a platform for people to help each other," Setbon added. "And this is all about angels. Providing a tool where people can ask for something and receive help for free around the neighborhood, around the campus or university, and pay it forward."

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