New York Students Receive Free Supply-Filled Backpacks

Christmas has come early for public schools in New York City. After the entire school system declared cafeteria lunches completely free of charge, a Brooklyn establishment took a step further. As a back-to-school treat, P.S. 276 provided 600 students with free supply-filled backpacks.

“When students have the basic supplies, their attitude, their behavior and even their self-esteem increases,” Dave Smith of KINF (Kids In Need Foundation) said.

Popular pen brand Bic was also in on the action. On average, Americans spend around $78.5 billion on back-to-school supplies annually. That’s literally a ton of notebooks.

“They were so happy and I’ve never seen them this way. They were so excited. I can see the excitement on their faces, they were thrilled!” teacher Alice Whitaker said. “They were so happy and they were looking at stuff that they never saw before.”

Over 22 years, KINF has donated $900 million worth of school supplies to children under the poverty line. Remember — there’s more to a pen than just ink.

 

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Your Career Can Benefit Others Too

There are an endless number of ways to help others. You can run a restaurant for the poor or raise money for children with disabilities. When it comes to helping others, it doesn’t matter who you are — middle class or part of the 1%. You can be a total busybody and still give back by using your career as a means of benefitting others. Here’s how you can do it.

Especially for university students, fearing that your future occupation may be a selfish one is completely natural. After all, being a creative writer or interior designer may seem, in a way, limited. This is far from true, as many jobs can be platforms for sharing knowledge and information with others. If you are a chef, you can use your expertise to educate other aspiring chefs, whether this means charging for a workshop or doing it for free.

Offering your services pro bono is another awesome way to do good. It may not profit you financially, but the simple joy of giving others a means to learn is almost always enough. Reach out to charitable institutions and figure out where you can be an asset. Who knows? You may be part of the success story of an aspiring engineer.

If you’re unsure of how your job can help others directly, use it to advocate for something. If you’re a graphic designer promoting mental health, make an infographic. If you’re a farmer promoting animal welfare, grow organic, vegan food. Somehow, things always fall into place, even when partnerships seem odd. Especially today, there are so many different ways to do one thing. Now is the time to be innovative and resourceful.

If you are fairly established in the working world, a sensible option would be to earn to give. Figure out how much of your salary you can set aside for a cause you are truly passionate about. Decide whether you are financially stable enough to commit to a charity for a certain amount of time. Do research to ensure that your money is being distributed fairly and doing exactly what it is meant to. Of course, sticking to a group will require some involvement. Engage with your charity every now and then via visits or events.

If you feel your vocation should be directly involved with a cause, don’t hesitate to go for it. This way, you can make helping others your career. Still, decide where you think you can be most useful and what problems, to you, are most urgent. If you are great with computers, you can opt to do research regarding statistics or patterns that may be of use to your advocacy. Maybe you’re a fearless public speaker who would do best promoting your cause. If you are brimming with passion, chances are, you’ll find your place within whatever field of work you choose.

Picking out the perfect job may be a case of what earns the most or what line of work your family is in. But keep in mind that it is also about your personal desires and strengths, as well as its potential to impact others.

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If You’re Not Natural In A Skill You Can Learn It

Learning a new skill is on everyone’s agenda. Whether it’s becoming fluent in a foreign language or simply having something as an asset, skills are undeniably valuable. While being able to teach yourself something instantly is the Facebook community’s most desired superpower, it isn’t all that easy. However, it’s definitely possible.

Firstly, find a skill you are passionate about. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? Forget difficulty levels for now, and go beyond a “just for fun” mindset. Consider the skill as something that will be vital to your life (and anyway, it may be).

Things may be easier if you consider your own skills. Some activities require good memory retention or an ability to accurately follow instructions. If you can already check certain “pre-requisites” off a list, your chances at becoming an expert at your new skill are significantly higher.

Once you’ve picked your skill, set realistic goals. Figure out what your primary motivation is. Do you want to learn to draw because a university elective requires it? Or do you want to impress a colleague? Whatever the case, make these goals meaningful to you, however shallow they may seem. Your bar should be at a defined level of expertise. If you want to become knowledgeable in a language, are you seeking full comprehension or get-by conversation? Gauge your own strengths and weaknesses in regards to this particular skill.

If you’re training yourself to become proficient in something you’ve never done before, chances are, you want to learn fast. If you can’t, don’t let your pace discourage you. On the ground, sloths move 2 meters a minute. It’s a stretch, but they get the job done. Manage your expectations and also set a deadline. When will this skill be most useful to you? Figure things out far in advance. If your chosen skill is writing fiction and you’re keen on entering a short story contest, don’t hesitate. Dive in!

Break down the skill. If you’re into photography, you’re going to have to learn the ropes of using cameras and editing tools. Skills can be two or even three-fold — making a list of what you have to tackle will come in handy. It’s kind of like throwing together a deconstructed meal. Be visual about it. Build graphs and brain maps (they may sound pretty juvenile, but they are useful — I promise!).

Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it your mantra and remember: consistency is your friend. You can learn a perfect Pachelbel Canon on the piano but fail to retain certain strokes because you don’t practice enough. On that note, don’t overwork yourself. It’s the same principle as studying too hard for an exam. While it’s great for your short-term memory, the stress will tire your mind.

Every now and then, you’ll feel like giving up. “It’s too difficult,” is a phrase that nobody is alien to. Identify your pain points. What do you know you’ll struggle with? If it’s hand-eye coordination or remembering sequences, figure out the best way to overcome these struggles. Most importantly, remember your motivation.

Maybe there is a charm that comes with being a natural at something. However, it doesn’t mean making the effort is any less attractive!

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Cosmetic Brand Lush Is Funding Permaculture Farms

Cosmetic brand Lush, known for its scrumptious bath bombs, is on a roll with its eco-initiatives. Since turning trash into packaging, it is also now funding permaculture farms at £1 million a year.

“For us, the work we focus on is often regenerative, as opposed to sustainable – we want to give back more than we take,”

The said permaculture farms provide the beauty brand with organic ingredients such as aloe and shea butter. While Lush can count on a stable supply of materials, it is also helping communities thrive.

“We started the fund in 2010, with the idea that there can be a different, more supportive way of doing business,” [says creative buyer Gabbi Loedolff.]

The initiative, called the SLush Fund, has reached out to groups in Ghana and Peru. It is creating jobs and providing new technologies while being mindful of the environment. On that note, I think a relaxing soak in the tub would be doing myself and Lush some good.

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Spread The Charitable Holiday Cheer On A Budget

Rolling into the “ber” months has many of us anticipating the upcoming holidays. While December usually means plastic pine trees from Home Depot and the return of Starbucks’ secret menu, it is also a time of giving. Though it’s the simplest and most practical way to help others in need, we aren’t all equipped to donate money. (That is, of course, unless you’re Bill Gates) However, there are a plethora of different ways to spread the charitable holiday cheer on a budget — and it may be more rewarding than you think.

Making a physical donation is easily the most viable option for holiday busybodies. If money isn’t exactly on your side, choose to donate in kind. Considering that the Christmas season rakes in a lot of presents, there are probably household items you can choose to live without. You can pledge clothing to shelters and toys to children’s groups. Books can go to your local library and appliances or electronics can end up in Goodwill. Of course, it is best to ensure that the items in your “give” box are in good condition.

If you can spare a day being proactive, you can opt to give your time. Charities don’t only seek checks and boxes — they need people. Volunteer at a home, whether for the elderly, ill, or four-legged. Chances are, there will be a lot for you to do. A rise in nonprofit groups may leave you with a copious amount of options. If you’re unsure of where to start, figure out where your interests lie and what skills you have to offer. This is where making a list and checking it twice may come in handy. (Scoot over, Santa)

If you are keen on raising funds, plan something income-generating like a garage sale or auction. If you’re without a charity of choice, research a group that could use the money. Remember that you will make the greatest impact by sticking to one organization. A few hundred dollars will go a long way for a single cause as opposed to dividing costs between various groups.

Some people love experiencing the immediate effects of giving back. If you’re handy in the kitchen, consider running a food drive. Get your neighborhood in on the action. Decide what meals are easiest to throw together, and are most cost-efficient. Not only will you satisfy a handful of hungry tummies — you’ll bring the community together.

Needing a change? Or are you simply not so squeamish? Make a medical donation. Blood drives are common during the holidays and a perfectly suitable option for those who have managed to stay in shape. (Perhaps skip the fruit cake?) If you’re not too hot for needles, donate your hair! You’ll be surprised how many people are affected by hair loss due to medical conditions. Moms can also donate breast milk to milk banks.

Giving back can be rewarding, especially if you have the money to do so. But you can choose to be charitable every single day. The time you take to change someone’s life will likely be more meaningful than just a dollar bill.

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Dutch City Creates First Habitable 3D Printed Houses

These days, it’s as if my childhood fantasies are all coming true — surprisingly enough, through architecture. I’ve always wanted to go to a school straight out of a fairytale: sprawling woods, fireflies, and all. I also remember being so captivated by paper dolls, wishing I was one so I could wear their printed dresses and pet their printed puppies and live in their colorful printed houses. Certainly that, too, doesn’t seem far-fetched anymore as a construction company launches an important project that will create 3D printed houses that are actually habitable.

Dutch company Van Wijnen calls the endeavor Project Milestone and it is being executed in an area near the city of Eindhoven.

Currently, there are five houses in total, each with a unique shape and size that shows off the flexibility of the cutting-edge tech. Since the printer is essentially a giant concrete nozzle that moves along a two-dimensional track high up in the air, architects are able to design homes in pretty much any shape they like.

How is the construction done, you ask? First, the pieces of the house are printed off-site then brought to the area for assembly. That’s pretty much it. The team, however, hopes they will be able to bring the printer on-site soon for more convenient adjustments. This entire process results in a far smaller timeframe than the usual building structure, which takes months and months.

The simplified assembly isn’t the only advantage 3D printing has to offer over conventional building methods. The process requires less workers, keeping costs down and accidents to a minimum. Further, the amount of cement, and transportation required are kept to a bare minimum, reducing the environmental impact.

Of course, improvements on structural integrity and environmental impact are continuously being researched. With the 3D technology behind printed houses still developing, we can’t really expect new villages or cities to suddenly sprout up from the ground (or the printer). But one thing is for sure, this is a game-changer for architecture.

And well, maybe, another: let’s just say kids like me who grew up on paper dolls and other kids who grew up playing The Sims will be very elated.

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The Art of Happiness: 4 Things You Need to Know

Everyone has dreams and aspirations. Some people strive towards certain long-term goals, integrating their sense of self, their career, their relationships, and other aspects of their lives mindfully — and in such a way that they organize particular steps on how to find success and work on that plan. Others are more content to live each day to the fullest, making the most of the different aspects of their lives even without a precise set of objectives, and finding small successes in short-term goals that they achieve. Either way, everyone is trying to figure things out. In my understanding, what we’re really trying to figure out is the art of happiness.

I’m sure all of us have wondered, some more often than others, if we’re currently happy with our lives. And if we realize we’re happy, we then ask, how do we continue being so? And if we realize we’re not, how do we start working on it? I don’t have a degree in psychology or anything, and I’m sure I’m only one of too many people to reflect out loud about the art of happiness, but let me speak from experience and take a crack at it anyway.

1. Start here and now.

First and foremost, it’s important to stop delaying or postponing the search of what makes you happy. It helps to start simple. You don’t have to engage so deeply in a philosophical discourse and quote from famous ancient Greek scholars. You don’t have to get a life motto tattooed on your arm and consistently try to stick by it everyday. You don’t have to repaint your entire house so that it will look cheerful and inspire you to feel the same. If any of those helps, good. But what matters is this: start today.

The desire to have a profound definition of happiness will put so much pressure on you. Instead, focus on the many unexpected little ways to start reflecting on your life and the art of happiness. Simply reading a book, dressing up nicely for yourself, baking cookies or walking around the community might be able to help. The point is for you to put yourself in the mindset of actively wanting to be happy, instead of merely letting your ordinary day-to-day routine pass you by.

2. Work towards a healthy lifestyle.

Now that you’re in the mindset of being happy in small and simple ways, it’s also time to introduce small and simple changes to your lifestyle. After reflecting on the ordinary things you do everyday, it helps to identify how you want to make them better.

Think about the lifestyle trends that will most benefit you. For instance, you may find fulfillment by participating in sustainability efforts, whether through fashion or recycling. Another definitely beneficial step is to pursue the healthy lifestyle you’ve always known you needed, whether that means putting effort into a plant-based diet or a regular exercise routine or both. After all, a healthy body and a healthy mind should work together. Relax once in a while. Take breaks from social media. I’m sure being more mindful of your lifestyle practices will eventually have a payoff.

3. Make positive memories.

No man is an island. As creatures with a social nature, it’s a significant part of our lives to cultivate our interpersonal relationships. But it’s not enough just to ask your family or friends how they are every once in a while. To properly keep up with our intimate connections, we have to ensure we spend quality time together.

Do a fun activity with your peers, something that you miss because you haven’t done in so long. Go bowling. Redo your garden with your family. Have a picnic with your nieces and nephews. I’m sure there are a lot of positive memories from the previous years that you go back to whenever you’re feeling down, so what’s stopping you from creating more of those? Bond with your loved ones, help each other make fantastic memories, and I don’t know, take some selfies to immortalize those great moments? Again, it doesn’t matter how you do it; what matters is that you do.

4. Express gratitude and exercise kindness.

Here’s where I go scientific about the art of happiness. Some studies have tried to recognize certain predictors to our well-being, and they consistently include these: gratitude and kindness. Feeling grateful is an awesome mindset to maintain, though it doesn’t come naturally. We spend so much time wanting more that we forget to be thankful for what’s already there for us. We forget that sometimes, good enough is good enough.

It takes practice to inculcate gratitude in oneself, so make it part of your life. Write a thank you note each day — to a parent, a friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger. (Science says you don’t even have to send the letter of gratitude, so long as you write it down and get to think about it.) If you’re a spiritual person, say thanks through your prayers before going to sleep.

Perhaps most effectively, feel grateful and pay it forward. Interestingly enough, gratitude works best when the positive feelings associated with it translate into kindness. Don’t be afraid to help out. Not only will it make you feel good about yourself, performing acts of kindness can even give you actual health benefits. Heck, it might be the best lifestyle trend (please refer to Tip #2) that you can introduce to yourself.

These are only a few steps that you can initiate towards discovering the art of happiness. The specific answers, of course, will depend on your own history and your future goals. But then, if you’re only going to follow four words from my list of tips, choose these: start here and now. You might be surprised at the happiness — and more potential of it — that is already present around you, if you just look close enough.

* This post is inspired by BeepBeep Nation, an app that provides a platform for people to request for the help they need and others to offer their help. By facilitating face-to-face human interaction and creating a culture of kindness, it aims to make the world better. The EMINENT token, also known as the fuel for the BeepBeep Nation app, is now available for sale!

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Are You an Idealist or Realist? You Need to Be Both to Have Compassion

Time and time again, the age-old debate resurfaces among a group of friends, possibly during a night out for cocktails when someone shares his current career or relationship problems. Is it better to be an idealist or realist? Surely at least one friend will emerge as the former and another will appear to be the latter, but sometimes, a few of you will be confused as to how you have decided to look at life so far. As a businesswoman, I have long ago come to terms with the fact that I need to be both, in order to deal with the life path I have chosen for myself.

Another path that necessitates the destruction of the either/or mentality when it comes to being an idealist or realist is learning compassion. To live a fruitful life of being kind to others and sharing your life with them, one must learn to be both. I know seems like a contradiction, but first, let’s inspect what those terms generally mean to people.

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the second definition of idealist applies to a person with a certain perspective or way of life. Defined as “one guided by ideals” or “one that places ideals before practical considerations,” people who live by idealism probably aim to see things in a perfect light. Often also dubbed as dreamers, visionaries and positive thinkers, idealists value noble principles and set high goals for themselves. This often means that they tend towards optimism.

However, there’s also a misconception that idealists are naive, innocent, and wishful thinkers. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. They only hope for a better future and live life according to that hope, which means that the big picture is very important to them. However, by focusing on the big picture, they sometimes get ahead of themselves and forget to consider other important factors in a given situation. Now let’s contrast these traits with how a realistic person is described.

While idealists focus on “what could be,” realists tend to look at “what actually is.” They like to adopt a practical or pragmatic view of circumstances, which leads them to make safe and rational choices. Sometimes, they tend towards cynicism or pessimism, but again, that’s not necessarily the case. They just like to process particular aspects of a certain situation and carefully scrutinize the truth.

Instead of looking at the big picture of a better future, realists tend to break it down into components and set smaller, more achievable goals. Sometimes, this tendency hinders them from taking risks and makes them settle with what they’re immediately given. By focusing on the present, they may sometimes miss out on big possibilities.

Now you may notice that both mindsets actually seem to need each other. The debate for whether you’re an idealist or realist seems futile when you see the holes in either perspective. For instance, an idealist may have high hopes towards a huge goal, but he is not equipped with enough focus to actually lay out steps on how to achieve that. Meanwhile, a realist may have the analytic skills, but he doesn’t have any purpose so those skills just end up as unused potential.

When we stop thinking of whether we’re an idealist or realist and instead shift the conversation to how we should be the best of both, we start seeing that there’s so much more we can do. An idealist perhaps wants to change the world and make a brighter future for everyone, a vision that is very helpful in our times, but nevertheless just a vision. A realist can introduce practical ways on how to make that vision happen and sustain it, turning an idealistic hope into purposeful action.

The BeepBeep Nation app encourages the idealist and the realist in everyone by enabling its users to regularly do kind acts and eventually invest in a broader culture of kindness. It provides a platform to connect people who need help and others who can provide that help, fostering new and healthy relationships or networks. As such, not only does it promote an attitude and culture of helping each other out, it also makes way for a whole new level of face-to-face human interaction.

Aiming to build trust among individuals, BeepBeep Nation convinces the idealist in you that a brighter future or a better world is possible, and it urges the realist in you to start acting on that picture.

You may explore the BeepBeep Nation website to find out more about how to harness your idealistic and realistic side in exercising compassion. To get started, don’t forget to check out its fuel, the EMINENT token, now available for sale. Now you no longer have to choose between being an idealist or realist; BeepBeep Nation offers some truly exciting ways to develop a healthy mindset that embraces both.

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2 Birds in 1 Beep: Getting Help and Getting to Know Your Locale

The BeepBeep Nation app not only provides a platform for people to get the help they need and others to help out, it ultimately aims to create a culture of kindness and make the world a better place. It does this not only by motivating people to participate in a helping economy, it also fosters the potential of fulfilling face-to-face social interactions to turn into something more, like friendship.

But what else can it do? Perhaps another “little” thing it provides that can ultimately change the world is urge you to get to know your locale better or to explore a new place on a whole new level. There are always unfamiliar but fascinating things to discover about one community, whether it’s your own or another one that you’re just visiting for a while.

BeepBeep Nation connects you to everyone within a 1-5 mile radius who happens to have the app on their phones. If you’re beeping for some kind of help near your own home, chances are you’ll get a helper who lives in the vicinity. Maybe it’s someone from the home owners association of the village. Maybe it’s the mom of Kaylee, your daughter’s schoolmate, whom you never really talked to before. Maybe it’s the owner of that tea shop a few blocks down where your mother-in-law likes to get her chamomile.

Let’s say one weekend, you have your hands full because of spring-cleaning, and so you need a little assistance in picking up an item from the grocery. The BeepBeep Nation app will connect you to someone who can provide that help, and chances are, it might be someone from around the area. Grab that chance to talk to your helper. You never know, you might just make a friend you have been previously missing out on. There are always new ways to know your locale better through the people in it, no matter how small the place is. Bonding better with the people in the community will help you feel more in touch with your surroundings.

Now let’s say work has been extra tedious this week, and you and your co-workers just want to chill out for finally surviving it. You’re looking for an interesting place to have a few cocktails, and the usual just doesn’t seem to cut it this time. Use the BeepBeep Nation app in getting the freshest, most accurate recommendations. You might discover a new hole-in-the-wall that’s perfect for your bunch of peers. You might discover a new brunch place for a weekend with your mom. You might even fall in love with places in the community you’ve never paid attention to before.

Then again, BeepBeep Nation is not only good for getting help within your own community. You can also use it to explore a new place. Let’s say you have a business conference coming up cross-country, and it will last two days. After which, you have an extra day for sightseeing, but you don’t have the time to make an itinerary as you are busy preparing for the conference itself. BeepBeep Nation can help you specify your current location and beep for relevant requests, such as having a tour guide to take you around. Get a travel experience like no other by strolling around like a local citizen. You might just make the most of an unfamiliar city, and gain new contacts in a locality besides your own.

Soon to launch worldwide, the BeepBeep Nation app can truly help you hit two birds in one beep. You can know your locale better or explore a new community, all while getting the help you need. To participate, check out the EMINENT (EMN) token, fuel for BeepBeep Nation. Pre-sale is live now, and it has a current bonus offering of 10% extra tokens. Changing the world for the better has never been this fun.

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Too Many Apps? Cluttered Phone Screen? Here’s What to Do.

I am a firm believer of the “messy desk, messy head” mantra. In my regular working schedule, I always make sure to set a 10 to 15-minute break to put those sticky notes back where they belong, throw out random scribbles from when I tried to conjure ideas for my next article, file those printouts that I forgot about yesterday, create a clearing for my laptop in the middle of the table (thereby clearing my head as well), etc etc. Everything has to be in place so that I myself can be in place and finally write.

And in my everyday life, I bring the mantra not just to work but everywhere. My fridge and kitchen cupboard are extremely organized. And you know who else isn’t exempted from my powers? Shelly.

Shelly, my phone. (It’s a play on both the second syllable of my first name Rachel and the first syllable of the word cellphone. So –chel, cell-, Shelly. Get it? No? Fine,the name’s lame.) Took me long enough before I got tired of swiping and swiping as I ultimately try to find the app I need. Eyes hurting, I even become dizzy at times. Finally, I realized, there has to be some way to save time from gazing at an endless pool of apps and icons before I can do what I need to do.

And I’m sure it’s not just me. You probably needed to open your chat messages for an important bestie update, only to get lost for more seconds than necessary. And honestly, how many of us have a phone screen that truly serves some eyesore? Well, not mine anymore. So here are some tips to get rid of that clutter.

1. Delete what you don’t need.

Sure, you need your fond memories of that cutesy kitten game even though you no longer have time to actually play it. And sure, there’s the cupcake game, too. And who knows? You and Bry might just break up soon (even though you’ve been going strong for months now), so you don’t want to delete any of your three dating apps yet. Three! Question is: do you really want to be an app hoarder?

Ever since I found out and wrote about the Swedish concept of lagom eons ago — fine, just a few weeks ago — I tried integrating ideas of moderation and necessity with my lifestyle. It has worked so well so far. Even with my phone screen. So evaluate your apps. Think about the ones you truly and regularly need. Get rid of those you don’t. Again, don’t be an app hoarder. Chances are, even if you change your mind, you can just download it again sometime. But right now, what you need is peace of mind. And eyes. Your eyes need peace.

2. Folders, folders, folders.

If you have an active technological lifestyle, and your preoccupations really have bits to do with your phone, at least have the energy to file your apps into neat folders. Create categories that are relevant to you. For example, bundle your cooking and food-related apps together. Make a separate folder for your news apps. Make another for your social media accounts. And if you really can’t get rid of the kittens and cupcakes, just make sure they are where they need to be.

3. Download the BeepBeep Nation App.

These days, there is an app for everything. You need a ride? Get this app. You need to find a place to stay next weekend? Download this one. You need reviews of restaurants? Download another. And while it has been very convenient for us to get the services we need in the span of some taps, things might just get a bit more convenient.

The BeepBeep Nation App provides an easy way for people to get help and give help. And in different ways too, which makes it extremely efficient. Known as “The Mother of All Apps,” it covers many categories of your daily problems such as finding a ride and a place to stay, reading restaurant reviews, getting accurate information, and even receiving first aid in medical emergencies.

And while it’s amazing that one app covers all that and you now have reason to declutter your phone screen, what’s even more amazing is that you can get help for free. Visit the BeepBeep Nation website to find out more. In the meantime, go put your organizing fingers on, start deleting and categorizing on your phone screen, and finally address that eyesore.

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