Girl’s gift aims to spread joy

The family found the best care for 6-year-old Katie at the burn unit.



AUSTINTOWN — Katie Rein wanted to give back to Akron Children’s Hospital burn unit after it gave her back the use of her finger.

And for the Austintown 6-year-old, how to do that was a no-brainer.

It was small gifts, such as a toy or a craft, that made her feel better after each appointment since a Sept. 22 accident with a doorjamb severed the tip of her left ring finger.

So why not give toys, she suggested, to help those kids who, unlike Katie, didn’t get to go home after each appointment.

Katie was treated at the hospital on an outpatient basis, said her mother, Linda.

“But she would ask: ‘Are there kids who are here all the time, Mommy?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, there are.’”

“Every time we came there they would give us toys and stuff,” she said. “So I wanted to give them some toys too, to make them feel good.”

Katie and her family went to doctors every day after the accident, which happened at a youth basketball game at a church in Canfield, said Linda.

Though the accident would be traumatic in any case, it was especially worrisome to Katie’s parents because the girl is already “a phenomenal piano player,” her mother said.

“We found the best care at the burn center,” she said. “Who knows how to grow tissue and skin better?”

The hospital’s experts also knew well how to dress, clean and care for the wound, she said.

When Katie decided to surprise the hospital with the toys for Christmas, she found an ally in her dad, Karl, who is president of the Austintown Rotary Club, a community service organization.

Karl Rein suggested to the club’s 40 members that they not exchange gifts this year at their annual Christmas party, which was Dec. 7 at Austintown Manor. Instead, he suggested that each member donate a toy instead, Linda said.

With half a minivan full of toys, the family traveled to the burn center Dec. 13 for Katie’s last appointment there.

“We like, gave [the toys] to our nurse and she was really happy,” said Katie, who added that the lost fingertip didn’t worry her much in regard to her piano-playing. “I knew I could use my other hand.”

Nonetheless, she acknowledged, it’s better to be able to use both hands.

Now, the Watson Elementary first-grader is tickling the ivories for Christmas.

“I play ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas,’ and ‘Deck the Halls,’” she said.

She also likes to play music for her church, Reedemer Lutheran in Austintown, where her dad is the pastor.

Congregants there get treated to original compositions. “Sometimes, I even write my own songs,” Katie said.