Panera cookie sale benefits Rich Center

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) —    A delicious fundraiser kicks off Tuesday to benefit the Rich Center for Autism.

For the fourth year in a row, Panera Bread will be selling puzzle piece cookies at all their locations, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the Rich Center. The center relies on financial support from the community to stay open.

“Each child gets a scholarship from the state of Ohio that runs Rich Center from July 1 until now. We’re open year round, so without support from corporations like Covelli and Panera, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open,” said Lisa Long, director of development for the Rich Center.

“I don’t where I would be without the Rich Center, without the support we get from teachers and staff, the actual individualized lesson geared toward their abilities,” said Becky Henry, the mother of a Rich student.

To kick off the Pieces of Hope campaign, several students decorated some cookies Monday with icing and sprinkles.

“We have raised just under $50,000 and we’re really trying to blow it out of the water this year. We have gotten a great response, a lot of pre-orders coming in. Our bakery cafes are really excited about it. Our bakers love doing this special cookie because it’s only seven days,” said Ashlee Mauti, marketing director for Covelli Enterprises.

The shortbread cookies will be available starting Tuesday until April 8.

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