I'd like to know exactly how a person would successfully ask Hogwarts for help.
In Chamber of Secrets Dumbledore assures Harry that Hogwarts will always provide help to those who ask for it; later in the story Harry, wearing the Sorting Hat, asks for help and the Sorting Hat gives Harry the Sword of Gryffindor.
‘However,’ said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly, so that none of them could miss a word, ‘you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.’
Chamber of Secrets -- page 195 -- Bloomsbury -- chapter 14, Cornelius Fudge
Is the Sorting Hat a necessary proxy in order to ask Hogwarts for help? Or if Harry had not had the Sorting Hat in the Chamber of Secrets, would Hogwarts have provided assistance in a different way? Or would it vary from person to person?
The Basilisk had swept the Sorting Hat into Harry’s arms. Harry seized it. It was all he had left, his only chance. He rammed it onto his head and threw himself flat onto the floor as the Basilisk’s tail swung over him again.
‘Help me ... help me ...’ Harry thought, his eyes screwed tight under the Hat. ‘Please help me!’
Chamber of Secrets -- page 235 -- Bloomsbury -- chapter 17, The Heir of Slytherin
How is Hogwarts alerted that someone needs help? Is the Sorting Hat required to ask for and receive assistance from Hogwarts?