Charities Collect Metro Cards After Inauguration, March on Washington

After hundreds of thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of President Donald Trump and the Women's March on Washington, two local charities are asking out-of-town visitors to donate their no-longer-needed SmarTrip cards.

"It's been great to see that a lot of people visiting this city want to leave a lot of good will behind," said Ryan Palmer, spokeswoman for Martha's Table, a charity that provides aid through emergency food and clothing programs. The second charity, Miriam's Kitchen, works to end chronic homelessness.

Martha's Table and Miriam's Kitchen only put out their requests over the weekend, so they haven't received many cards yet, but both said they're expecting a strong response.

"Hopefully we'll see some cards later in the week," said Mei Powers, spokeswoman for Miriam's Kitchen, pointing to comments on the group's Facebook page indicating that buses headed home from the Women's March are collecting all of their cards to mail.

"We're expecting an influx in the next couple days," Palmer said.

One commenter on Twitter promised that more than 1,300 SmarTrip cards were coming soon, posting a picture of the cards she collected from attendees of the Women's March.

"1,368 SmarTrip cards collected from #WomensMarch -ers coming your way. Those walking down East Capitol were generous," tweeted @elizabethdmeyer.

Once the cards are received, both charities plan on consolidating them so each carries $20-$30 when distributed. Martha's Table plans to distribute the cards through their emergency food and clothing program, which will seek to get the cards to the people with the most need.

"Transportation is expensive," Palmer said. "For some people, every little bit helps."

Miriam's Kitchen will give the cards directly to their program staff members, who will then distribute the cards at their discretion.

"I think it'll be an ongoing thing," Powers said.

The concept of donating SmarTrip cards is not new. FareShare has been collecting donated Metro fare cards since 2005 and using them to provide transportation assistance to homeless veterans in the Washington area.

FareShare has collection boxes in hotels across D.C., Maryland and Virginia. According to FareShare Executive Director Jesse Sanders, hotel employees are familiar with the program and will suggest to departing guests that they leave their SmartTrip cards behind.

FareShare hasn't made any similar efforts to capitalize on the unneeded SmartTrip cards offered by this weekend's events, but Sanders is supportive of the idea.

"It highlights the need for transportation assistance," Sanders said. "There are not great sources of transportation subsidies for the homeless population in particular."

Cards can be mailed to:

Martha's Table
Attn.: Trish/Martha's Outfitters
2114 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

Miriam's Kitchen
Attn.: Brenda Segal
2401 Virginia Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

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