EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Melissa Creehan is seeing how generous Maine people can be.
A twin-size bed set complete with sheets. Several garbage bags full of secondhand and brand-new clothes. A portable TV stand. A love seat, whirl-pool, two humidifiers, a new air conditioner, dozens of new towels and washcloths, a small bag of toys — all donations the Creehans have received since Melissa announced two weeks ago that her 3-year-old daughter Chloe suffers from epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, a rare skin disorder.
“They have helped greatly,” Creehan said Tuesday of the donations. “It just shows that my community is there for me. Even with the mill going down … I greatly appreciate it.”
Also known as ichthyosis, epidermolytic hyperkeratosis is a genetic disorder that causes scaly skin eruptions, bony prominences and easy blistering on parts of the body. As few as one person out of 300,000 suffers from it, according to emedicine.com.
Creehan, a certified nurse assistant, needs special equipment and must bathe her daughter several times a day to treat the fragile skin that is at the heart of her daughter’s disorder, said Kelly Willigar, an increasingly well-known town volunteer who is helping the Creehans fulfill a wish list of items the family needs or would like to have.
Except for the most expensive items, the wish list has been mainly filled.
“There’s been more donations than what I expected,” Willigar said Wednesday. “People have been very generous and very caring.”
Donations came from as far away as Camden and Hampden, as did $2,000 in cash donations, many of them anonymous, said Danielle Day, 23, of Medway, Creehan’s sister. Day and Creehan expressed gratitude for Willigar and Debbie Currie, another town resident who is helping Willigar with fundraising.
“She is a godsend,” Creehan said of Willigar. “Same with Debbie. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t helped me.”
The sisters are also selling window decals and ribbons, and will split the proceeds between Chloe and the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types Inc., or FIRST, Day said. Currie and Willigar will be at the East Millinocket Federal Credit Union on Friday starting at 8 a.m. selling tickets for a 50-50 raffle they will hold at a later date.
This being National Ichthyosis Awareness Week, the fundraisers’ timing is perfect, Day said. She and Creehan plan to meet with school and day care workers to acquaint them with Chloe’s condition. One of the greatest misconceptions people have of ichthyosis sufferers, Day said, is that they’re unclean. They’re not: The disease lends that appearance.
“I want them to be prepared to understand her skin disorder and how to take care of her if something happens,” Creehan said.
Anyone interested in making donations may reach Willigar at 746-9982 or Currie at 746-3248 or visit chloecree-han.homestead.com.