Anni Ryan Meyer couldn’t afford to be speechless Monday. Her telephone never stopped ringing.
Every ring brought another donation for orphans living in squalor in Romania - desperate boys and girls being helped by Ryan Meyer and a small group of other Spokane volunteers.
Ryan Meyer was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, spurred by “Into the Heart of Darkness,” a Spokesman-Review special report published Sunday.
Donations by the carload poured into her business, Ryan House Studio of Stained Glass.
There were so many boxes and bags of clothes and toys and medicine that the little studio on East Baldwin couldn’t hold it all. Ryan Meyer had to start hauling the stuff home. Pretty soon, she couldn’t squeeze through the living room.
“I got (to work) at 8:45 a.m., and I haven’t used the bathroom since,” Ryan Meyer said. “The phone has been ringing off the hook. … This has just been wonderful.”
She and Celeste Shaw, a nurse at Deaconess Medical Center, will be leaving for Romania early Thursday to deliver the donations personally. They’ll stay for eight days.
It’ll be Ryan Meyer’s third trip to the orphanage in Suta Dragodana. Shaw has been to the country three times on medical missions.
After reading about the volunteers’ efforts, Spokane residents opened their hearts and wallets.
The biggest cash gift came from Marlene Walters and her son Bill, who donated $1,000. Delta Air Lines employees in Spokane pitched in $500.
Other people just showed up at Ryan Meyer’s studio, wallets and checkbooks in their hands.
“There was this cute, little old man who said he was embarrassed because all he could spare was $4 or $5,” said Ryan Meyer, who hasn’t had time to count all the money that poured in.
A Kmart pharmacist promised boxes of cough drops and cold medicine. And there were sweaters, boots, knit hats, gloves, delicing shampoo, soap and toothpaste.
The biggest challenge will be getting everything to Romania.
“We’ll be able to take some of it on the flight over,” Ryan Meyer said. “But what we can’t get over there, we’ll have to ship. What’s nice, though, is we’re getting money to cover the cost to ship everything.”
She showed a recent fax from an orphanage worker thanking her for leaving some money. For less than $70, a tablecloth, silverware, toys and five pairs of prescription eyeglasses were purchased.
“You see these little kids bumping around into things because they can’t see,” she said.
When their next visit ends, Ryan Meyer and Shaw hope to bring back a 5-year-old girl with a heart condition.
Shaw spoke to Romanian officials Monday. They told her there may be an echocardiogram machine in the country.
“We can see if her condition is operable with the machine,” Shaw said.
If it is and the Romanian government gives Ryan Meyer and Shaw the go-ahead to bring her to Spokane, the girl’s medical guardianship will be turned over to Shaw.
Dr. Jack Leonard, a Spokane heart surgeon, has promised to perform whatever surgery she needs at no cost.
The key to bringing her here is convincing the Romanian government that the surgery the child needs can’t be performed in her native country.
“We’re trying to get Sabina’s medical records,” Ryan Meyer said. “I’m coming back with that child.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: MORE ON-LINE The text and photos in Sunday’s section, “Into the Heart of Darkness,” are available on Virtually Northwest, the online service of The Spokesman-Review. The service also has almost two dozen photos that were not published. Point your World Wide Web browser at: http://www.VirtuallyNW.com