Log in to like this post! Hacking for a Cause – Be a Part of Something Great! DevToolsGuy / Thursday, December 12, 2013 With the holiday season upon us, it seems you can't leave your house without being faced with dozens of ways to "make a difference". Whether it's by adding a few dollars onto your shopping total for a worthy cause or tossing some spare change into a Salvation Army bucket, this time of year can inspire even the grinchiest of grinches to give back and feel good. But sometimes, don't you wish there was more you could do? Maybe you want to get involved on a deeper level, and be a part of something bigger than a donation check. That's where Hackathons come in. Hackathons (also known as code fests, hack days, or any other fun combination of similar words) bring programmers, designers, developers, and other tech-people together for a set period of time to collaborate on software projects. Their size and scope run the gamut from multi-day events focused on improving a company's existing programs (like Google's recent Glass-focused hackathon), to more grassroots-driven gatherings to benefit social good. What's even better is that events like these can be organized by just about anyone with the desire and drive to be a part of something great! So this holiday season, why not make a new year's resolution to create your own hackathon around a cause that's important to you? While it may sound like a daunting task, there are plenty of resources out there, like this great overview on dutiee.com, or the refreshingly candid breakdown on TechCrunch. Budgeting, sponsorship, marketing, food, giveaways – everything you need to organize a successful event of your own! Just imagine all the good that could come out of your hackathon: Enhanced tornado-tracking apps that help people get out of harm's way before it's too late; programs that connect high school students with volunteer opportunities in their communities; an app that can identify dangerous areas using crime statistics to improve pedestrian safety. The fact is, when you bring a bunch of smart people together to rally around one task like hurricane relief or improving the local education systems, you can pretty much guarantee that great things are going to happen. Infragistics' Junior Evangelist Damyan Petev has seen some great collaboration at these events. "Gathering with like-minded enthusiasts and working together to solve a problem is quite fun," he says. As a participant, "I get to do something I might not dedicate time to otherwise and I get to meet some great new people." And having participated as a judge at a few hackathons, Technical Evangelist Brent Schooley is especially impressed with the results of many of these events. "It really is amazing to see what people come up with in a short time frame," Brent says. "The time pressure and a fixed scope (such as using a particular service) really causes a team to focus and the results can be pretty interesting." So if you're looking for a way to give back this holiday season, by all means; give that extra dollar at the checkout, or toss your spare change into the red kettle outside the store if that's what moves you. But if you have the itch to be a part of something great, put your coding talents to use and consider organizing a hackathon of your own. When you give back in a big way, you just might find that the "season of giving" turns into a year-long thing. Happy coding!