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Build a Stronger Community with These 6 Brilliant Online Tools

Your smartphone can manage your bank account, order your coffee, track your workout — and help you become a better neighbor.

Whether you’re new to a neighborhood or have lived there for several years, it’s nice to feel like you’re a part of a community. A variety of sites and applications can now help you feel more connected to where you live. They offer everything from hyperlocal news to places to recycle unwanted items. Here are six apps and sites that can help you become a better — and more informed — neighbor:

Next Door

This social network puts people in touch with everything going on in their area. It has grown to have over 10 million registered users in over 116,000 neighborhoods. Among its many offerings are recommendations for contractors, veterinarians, gardeners and doctors, as well as posts about local events, pet adoption and items for sale.

ioby

This crowdfunding app can help you raise money for neighborhood projects. It also supports initiatives by offering expert advice, including timelines, budgets and regular webinars, and lets members share their knowledge and experience with others. Ioby will even put you in contact with experts in relevant fields from urban planning to green infrastructure. Whether you want to create a community garden or repair your local basketball court, ioby can probably help.

Freecycle

As a society, we throw away a lot stuff that could be used by somebody else. So rather than contribute to the growing size of your local landfill, why not sign up for Freecycle?Made up of over 5,000 groups with 9 million members around the world, this nonprofit lets you find a home for your unwanted items and source useful things that you would have otherwise had to purchase. So you can feel good about giving an item a new home while protecting your local environment.

Lostsa Helping Hands

If a neighbor’s health takes a turn for the worst, others who live nearby often want to help out. Lotsa Helping Hands can help you create so-called “caring communities” using your computer or mobile device. Friends, family or neighbors can sign up for tasks that can help primary caregivers, as well as send words of support during difficult times.

Olio

Amazingly, at least one-third of the food produced globally is never consumed, according to food sharing site Olio. The service aims to reverse this trend by offering to share food that would otherwise end up being wasted. It does this by connecting you with local businesses and neighbors who have food to spare, whether it’s produce nearing its sell-by date in a nearby supermarket or few vegetables unwanted by a local household.

Patch

If you want to keep abreast of the local news in your neighborhood, try Patch. Its hyperlocal sites provide news about government, schools and businesses, along with updates on things like flash flood warnings and traffic reports to help keep you and your family safe.