March for Our Lives supporters open homes to out-of-town marchers

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally, and a grassroots effort is working to find free lodging for out-of-town visitors.

“They shouldn’t be prohibited from coming because they don’t have a place to stay,” said Elizabeth Andrews of the March for Our Lives Lodging group. “So we’ve organized free lodging for people.”

The group is made up of D.C.-area moms and their friends, PTAs, community listservs and student councils. It’s also working with the Alumni Association of Stoneman Douglas High School of Parkland, Florida, where the mass shooting that left 17 dead inspired the youth movement that planned the march.

Marchers younger than 18 need to be accompanied by a chaperone. Groups and marchers over 18 also are welcome to sign up. Otherwise, the group has defined no other guidelines or protocols for guests.

The ultimate goal, Andrews said, is to make good matches between interested hosts and interested guests.

“We don’t just put heads in a bed,” Andrews said. “We ask that both the host and the guest provide social media links so we can get a better sense of who they are.”

A couple of college students, for example, might be matched with hosts from Georgetown Law on Capitol Hill.

Forty-six college students from Florida State University’s NAACP chapter chose not to sleep in a church’s big community room; they wanted beds. Because offers have come in from so many potential host homes, Andrews said, they’re being sprinkled around homes in D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

“So they’ll all be within a couple blocks of each other in these different host homes,” Andrews said.

More than 1,200 host families have signed up in D.C., Virginia and Maryland from as far away as Woodbridge, Virginia, and Annapolis, Maryland. But Andrews said matches are trying to be made closer to the city center or nearer-in suburbs to make traveling easier on the day of the event.

About 10 percent of potential hosts have been taken up on offers to give March for Our Lives participants a place to stay, Andrews estimated.

“And people are like: ‘That’s great, what else can I do? Can I provide meals, or can I bring breakfast somewhere, or can I drive these guests to the Metro or pick them up at the airport?’” Andrews said.

While the sign-up sheet clearly states that hosts need do nothing more than provide people with a place to sleep, many plan to offer guests more, such as potluck dinners with like-minded neighborhood friends on the nights before and of the event.

“It’s one of the most heartwarming things I have seen in the D.C. community in I don’t know how long,” Andrews said of the response.

If you’re interested in signing up as a host or visitor, visit March for Our Lives Lodging.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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