Panera launches sweet fund-raiser for autism

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Panera launches sweet fund-raiser for autism

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Panera Bread’s Puzzle Piece Shortbread Cookies, which will be sold from April 3-9 to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital’s autism diagnostic center. TABATHA WHARTON/STAFF

Panera Bread’s one-week-only Puzzle Piece Shortbread cookies will be available through Sunday, April 9 — and 100 percent of the proceeds from each Puzzle Piece cookie sold will be donated to the Dayton Children’s Hospital autism diagnostic center.

The cookies are available for advance orders at www.covelli.com/autism. They cost a flat rate of $1.99 apiece.

The fundraiser by Covelli Enterprises — the Dayton/Springfield-area franchisee of Panera Bread bakery-cafes — coincides with the first full week of National Autism Awareness month.

“Not only do our customers say the cookies are delicious, but the campaign allows us to make a direct positive impact on families we serve here in the Miami Valley,” Sam Covelli, owner-operator of Covelli Enterprises, said in a release.

Covelli Enterprises has donated more than $1.2 million to local non-profit autism organizations since 2010. This will be the third Pieces of Hope campaign in the Dayton area since Covelli Enterprises acquired the Panera locations in the region in September 2014. Dayton-area stores broke records with more than 17,000 cookies sold last year, Covelli officials said.

The money donated to Dayton Children’s will be used to help fund programs that will provide timely diagnostic assessment for children, as well ongoing education and support to primary care physicians to assist them in the identification and management of autism in children.

Dr. Craig Boreman, medical director of Dayton Children’s autism diagnostic center, said in a release, “Regardless if the child has autism or another developmental disability, those services will make all the difference in their development. Not only does this process help our children, it also reduces family stress and builds a better future for our community.”

In addition to donating all of the proceeds of the cookie sales, Covelli’s Panera locations will collect funds for Dayton Children’s Hospital at the donation canisters near the registers of its Dayton Panera Bread locations throughout April, May and June.

Covelli Enterprises is the largest franchisee of Panera Bread in the U.S., with more than 300 bakery-cafés in six states.

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