Neighbors helping neighbors is nothing new in Arlington, but there's a new way that good deeds are getting attention.
The City of Arlington is inviting residents to report random acts of kindness via their "Ask Arlington" app for smartphones. The app was originally designed to allow residents to report things like potholes or code violations, but the infrastructure fit perfectly for the city's kindness initiative.
"They pinpoint on a map so you know where the different acts of kindness are coming from," said Norm Lyons, the community relations coordinator for the city of Arlington.
Every dot spread across town tells a story, from a neighbor mowing another neighbor's yard while they're recuperating from surgery to colleagues picking up the check at lunch.
"We've been doing it right all along in this city," Lyons said. "We just haven't quantified it. We haven't recorded it."
Since they started accepting kindness reports, the city says they've had some 60 submissions via the app. They would like for that number to grow exponentially, with the goal of reaching 400,000 acts of kindness, one for every resident in Arlington.
Fire Lt. Michelle Dereta was reported on the app by a colleague. She works at Fire Station 13 in Southwest Arlington and lives near a 94-year-old neighbor named Rose.
"We just became kind of instant friends," she said.
Rose told her she'd always wanted to ride in a fire truck, so last weekend on her birthday, Lt. Dereta surprised her, showing up at her home with a fire truck and a bouquet of flowers.
"After she went for a ride, she goes, 'That wasn't long enough, I want some more!'" recalled Lt. Dereta. "It was so adorable. It was almost like she was a kid again."
Acts of kindness take all forms, and the city's hope is that by pooling them in one place it can inspire others to spread the love.
"We're not talking anything revolutionary here," Lyons said. "This is old as time."