Kind ACTions in Alexandria

By Julie Carey
|  Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011  |  Updated 9:00 PM EDT
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There's a new lifeline in <a title=northern Virginia for non-profits and community organizations faced with special needs." />

Julie Carey

There's a new lifeline in northern Virginia for non-profits and community organizations faced with special needs.

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Think of it as a technology-aided barn raising. That's how Tracy Viselli describes ACTion Alexandria -- a new, community-based website that matches potential donors with the needs of local non-profits and other community organizations.

The brainstorming that led to the site started right after the recession kicked in and human services agencies were hurting.

"Communities have needs. They always have limited resources," explained Viselli. "So how do you take care of those needs with limited resources? People come together and help each other."

Even though the site has only been up for a little longer than a month, 240 Alexandria residents have registered as members. When an urgent need is brought to ACTion Alexandria's attention, it's labeled as a "featured action."

A few weeks ago, a health care center in Arlandria got hit with a surge in flu.  For dehydrated babies and toddlers, Pedialyte can often avert a trip to the emergency room. Trouble was, Pedialyte is not in the non-profit's budget.

Enter ACTion Alexandria. In just days, staff at the clinic were scrambling to find places to store the 200 doses that arrived, purchased by ACTion Alexandria members.

"It's a great mechanism for keeping the community aware of the needs of their neighbors," said clinic executive director Kristin Langlykke.

A recent diaper drive for another community group brought in 2,400 diapers in fewer than two weeks.

ACTion Alexandria donors can either purchase the needed goods themselves and drop them off or simply order through Amazon.com. The agencies getting the help say ACTion Alexandria has brought new-found peace of mind.

"I think we can put things up on that website and not have to suffer any emergencies," Community Lodgings Executive Director Bonnie Baxley said.

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