Panera Bread cafes donate nearly $500K

PARKERSBURG – In recognition of National Autism Awareness month, Panera Bread will hold its “Pieces of Hope” cookie campaign in all West Virginia locations.

From Tuesday to April 7, Panera Bread is inviting community members to purchase an exclusive Puzzle Piece Shortbread Cookie at their local Panera Bread bakery-cafe. All proceeds from each Puzzle Piece Shortbread Cookie will be donated to the intensive Autism Service Delivery Clinic at the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities.

Cookie sales will be held at Parkersburg and the 10 other Panera Bread Cafes in Charleston, Huntington, Clarksburg, Wheeling, St. Clairsville, Ashland, Beckley and Morgantown.

Sarah Crichingno, the mother of Hope, who has attended the Clinic said the clinic means much to their family.

“It is really hard to summarize what the WVU iASD clinic means to our daughter and our family. It is almost indescribable how it feels to hear that your child needs intensive autism therapy every day if she is to have a chance at a normal life, and then be faced with the daunting challenge of ‘How can we possibly do this?’ since there was no such place in our area where she could receive as much intensive therapy as she needed,” Crichingno said. “The doctors who diagnosed her autism wished us ‘good luck.’ We were so incredibly fortunate to be provided with the opportunity for her to attend the WVU intensive Autism Service Delivery Clinic.”

Through April, the iASD Clinic is the Operation Dough-Nation partner in the 11 West Virginia area bakery-cafes. Panera Bread and its franchisees support charitable causes through its Operation Dough-Nation program.

This is the fourth year that Panera Bread bakers have created an exclusive Puzzle Piece Shortbread cookie to be featured for a limited time at Panera Bread cafes. Panera Bread is honored to have donated nearly a half million dollars toward Autism Awareness over the past three years. Preorders for cookies can be placed online at

“We are thrilled that Panera has chosen the intensive Autism Service Delivery Clinic at WVU’s Center for Excellence in Disabilities as their partner for the 2014 Autism Awareness campaign. Our clinic successfully provides evidence-based training to WV children while training WVU students to work in their communities to provide this important intervention, and Panera’s support of our efforts is a wonderful example of local business giving back to the community,” said Dr. Susannah Poe, the clinic director.