DC residents launch grassroots campaign to help out Express distributors after paper shuts down

Days after a beloved D.C. commuter paper was suddenly shut down, some of its former residents are pitching in to help. They’re now raising money for the people who used to distribute Express, a free newspaper published by The Washington Post.

It all started last Thursday, when 65-year-old Hassan Nezhadessivandi learned the paper he’d handed out for the last five years at the DuPont Circle Metro station would no longer be printed.

“I didn’t know anything,” Nezhadessivandi said. “It was really hard.”

But unbeknownst to him, Erin D’Amato had his back, posting signs urging people to donate to a GoFundMe page she’d set up on his behalf, looking to help out Nezhadessivandi until he could find more work.

“He calls me out when my sister beats me to the Metro. He high fives me when I beat her,” D’Amato said Tuesday, and it turns out, she wasn’t alone. Not only did the money come pouring in, so did the comments. 

“Rain or shine, hot or cold, Hassan was always there to greet us,” one donor wrote.

Added another, “for the last three years, my mornings have started with a big smile and a hello from Hassan.”

“He means a lot to this community, it’s very obvious,” D’Amato said.

The fundraiser was so successful, D’Amato actually set up another one, this time hoping to raise $75,000 — or about $1,000 for each of the hawkers who, like Nezhadessivandi, used to hand out the Express.

“American people, they are the best people in the world,” he said. “They have kind heart. They reach out to the whole world and help everybody in the world. I wish everybody in the world was like them.”