The Holiday Assistance Network Database System (HANDS) was developed for the purpose of tracking services provided to the needy during the holiday season.

Multiple charity organizations in the greater Portland (OR) area were providing services to individuals in need who requested services. The Sunshine Division of the Portland Police Bureau realized that many of the organizations were duplicating services. The Sunshine Division approached the other charitable service organizations with the idea of a centralized database to track each household requesting services. The organizations would then be able to indicate what services they agreed to provide the households. The data would then be available for all organizations to view and therefore they would not agree to offer services already provided.

1) To create a centralized database that each charity organization in the greater Portland area could access.
2) To give access only to the data entered by the specific organization but to allow services to be offered to anyone who was not already provided for.
3) To provide output of rosters, delivery maps, and labels to each organization for the families they serve.

Each organization is assigned users and a supervisor, each with a unique user name and password. The users can then log in an search to see if the household requesting services has already been entered into the database. If the household is already in the database, the user can either edit the information (if their agency what the one that originally entered the record) or view the record and provide services. If the household is not in the database, then the user can enter it and indicate what services they will provide.

The information is keyed off of the household's address, therefore, it is essential that the correct address be given. At the time of entry, the address is verified to be a deliverable address by the US Postal Service. This assures that if a delivery is being made, that the delivery address is correct and that the household requesting services to not give a false address.

In addition to the household's address, the age and gender of the children in the household is recorded to facilitate the giving of gifts to the children. Each organization can then have a count of the number of children served, broken down by age to assure that enough gifts are available.

Each organization is given a roster along with address labels and data text files of the households served. Therefore, when the entry is complete, each organization has a full copy of the data for the households they served for later analysis.

The HANDS project was a great success. It allowed multiple charity organizations to track and coordinate services as well as allowed these organization to serve more individuals by preventing duplication of services. Last year the Holiday Assistance Network Database System helped organizations service 8798 households.