- The Washington Times - Monday, January 18, 2021

At least 18 downtown restaurants are giving food in thanks to thousands of National Guard troops deployed to the nation’s capital for Inauguration Day.

It all started last Wednesday, when photos of members of Congress giving camouflage-clad Guard troops boxes of pizza from We, The Pizza went viral.

“Once that happened, we basically started receiving phone calls after that of ‘Hey, can we donate pizzas to the Guard?’” pizzeria manager Rob Earley said Monday.

As donations came pouring in, the pizzeria began baking more pies for the troops, as well as local law enforcement agencies.

Thousands of Guard troops from across the country have been patrolling the District in preparation for Inauguration Day following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

“It’s real big. It’s a lot bigger than we ever thought it would be,” Mr. Earley said. “We figured that we’d get a few hundred pizzas that we would bring down to the guys. But probably just today alone we’ve done 400 to 500 pizzas for them.”

Other restaurants have joined the effort by dropping off food at the pizzeria “because we’ve kinda been able to get a connection inside to get, ya know, stuff done and deliver to these guys,” Mr. Earley said.

“Somebody dropped off soup today. We’ve had sandwiches dropped off, cookies, pastries. District Donuts is dropping off doughnuts. I know Ben’s Chili Bowl is dropping off chili for the guys tonight,” he said. “We just had Dolcezza gelato dropped off some gelato. Lion’s Bakery — they dropped off a crazy amount of bread this morning.”

Law enforcement officials are able to stop by and pick up the grub from We, The Pizza, which is located just three blocks away from the Capitol.

The pizzeria manager also is coordinating with agencies to make deliveries, which require navigating the city’s security perimeter marked by numerous closed streets and vehicle checkpoints.

“They’re letting us through for the most part,” Mr. Earley said.

People can donate money to the “We, The Pizza. We, The Troops” online portal to help with the effort; the website shows a donation of $12 feeds four troops.

Guard officials said the troops are receiving three government-provided meals each day, but Mr. Earley said local folks just want to give the soldiers some “comfort.”

“It’s about keeping morale up, and keeping these guys happy, and feeling welcome in our city,” he said. “I think they’re just in shock of the generosity of everybody around them.”

We, The Pizza, which touts the slogan “We are in this together,” plans to keep providing food as long as the troops are in town.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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