Residents of the Washington area - as far away as Inwood, W. Va., - have responded generously with gifts of furniture, clothing and cash to an article in Sunday's Washington Post about a woman's struggle to rear her eight grandchildren and to keep her family intact.
"When I read the story, I thought - here is a grandmother who reminds me of my own grandmother. She loves her gandchildren enough to want to keep them together. The children will never forget her for that," said Patricia A. Curnutt, a resident of fairfax County.
Yesterday afternoon, Mrs, Curnutt drove from her suburban home to Southeast Washington to visit Eva Mae Dorn, 59, who lives at 2730 Bruce Pl. SE in the Barry Farms public housing project. With her, Mrs. Curnutt brought an array of gifts, including six rolls of carpeting, several pairs of curtains, a kitchen table and six chairs and a potted plant in full bloom. She said the items had been stored in her garage and she wanted to put them to good use.
Mrs. Curnutt is among nearly two dozen families from Washington and around the beltway who have made donations to Mrs. Dorn's family.
By Monday afternoon,Mrs. Dorn was confronted with the problem of how to collect the gifts donated by people spread throughout the metropolitan area.
Steve Royal, owner of Acute Van Lines in Northwest Washington, helped alleviate the problem by donating the use of an 18-foot moving van to make some of the pickups for Mrs. Dorn. Her son, Willie, used his car to collect other gifts. Some donors insisted on delivering their own gifts so they can could meet Mrs. Dorn.
Anne Springfield, of Silver Spring, said that she and four other Montgomery County women will visit Mrs. Dorn this Saturday to meet her to deliver five boxes of clothing and other household items, including bars of soap, toothpaste, sheets, pillow cases and towels.
Darrly Platt, 21, a dry wall contractor who lives in Inwood, W. Va, said he sent Mrs. Dorn a check for $15. "The newspaper said this lady only get $942 a month to take care of eight children," said Platt. "I earn about that much each month and I can hardly take care of my wife and two small children. I know this grandmother needs help."
Evelyn Morrell and her husband, William E, who live in Falls Church, sent Mrs. Dorn a check for $20, the first of what the Morrells said would be regular monthly gift to Mrs. Dorn as long as they are financially able.
"My husband and I are both retired. We have good lives - such easy lives, compared to someone like Mrs. Dorn, said Mrs. Morrell, 66, a retired teacher. Her husband William, 68 worked until recent years for the National Science Foundation.
"We're not rich. We receive only a little retirement income," said Mrs.Morrell. "But we have decided to share what we have with Mrs. Dorn as long as we can and do without some of the luxuries we would buy with the money," added Mrs. Morrell, who said she has two grandchildren.
D.C. Department of Human Resources Director Albert Russo said the recurring $20 gift may violate city public assistance laws and many cause alterations in the - allotment to Mrs. Dorn for her grandchildren.
Eloise Young, a resident of northeast Washington, said was donating to Mrs. Dorn six bags full of clothing her children have outgrown Mrs. Dorn's grandchildren range in age from 2 to 15 years.
William Stallworth, of Northwest, gave $50 and a retired couple in Suitland donated $100 because, according to the wife who wished to remain anonymous, "we've been through that kind of poverty. We know what it's like."