Panera employee designs t-shirt for annual Autism Cookie Campaign

This is Bashir.

He’s one of the friendly faces you see at our Voice of America Panera Bread in West Chester, Ohio in our Cincinnati market. He started with our company as an Associate a year ago and has quickly grown to become the Assistant Manager at that location. According to Belinda, the cafe General Manager, it isn’t just his natural ability to serve the guest that makes him special. There’s so much more that makes Bashir who he is.

“He is very hardworking and humble,” Belinda said. “He really enjoys working for Panera Bread and in this community that he loves dearly.”

Bashir is also a very talented graphic artist, submitting the winning design for our recent company-wide t-shirt design contest. This April, the t-shirt he created will be worn by thousands of Panera employees across eight states during our annual Pieces of Hope for Autism campaign. The campaign will run from April 8-14 in all Covelli-owned Panera cafes to support various autism organizations, and Bashir couldn’t be prouder to have been selected as the winner.

“When I heard ’you won’ I felt like a dream came true,” he said. “This contest gave me the chance to do something for children with autism. From a young age I have always wanted to do something to help children in need of assistance. This is my way to do that.”

Perhaps it’s Bashir’s background that motivates him to give back. He comes to us from the country of Jordan. There he studied graphic design and after graduation worked for 8 years as a designer and media manager for a media company before starting his own graphic design business. After 3 years of managing his own business, he wanted to realize his dream of coming to the United States because of his love for this country and the people.

Bashir knew this leap of faith would mean having to start over, but he said “You can accomplish anything you want to if you work hard. You can start over and over if necessary to make your dream come true.”

When he got to the United States, he searched for a company that had the potential for career advancement and the chance to work with and help people.

“Panera provides the chance for me to serve the people. I have the chance to make an impact on someone’s day.”

The t-shirt design contest gave him the chance to use his graphic design skills to magnify that impact in support of a cause that affects so many.

The Pieces of Hope for Autism campaign is hosted annually to support causes including The Rich Center for Autism at Youngstown State University, Potential Development, Autism Speaks of Central Ohio, Autism Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism Speaks Georgia Chapter, South Carolina Autism Society, Dan Marino Foundation, and autism centers at Cleveland Clinic, Dayton Children’s, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospitals. Funds are used by these partners to provide services, scholarships, research, treatment, advocacy, and resources for families.

The campaign is near and dear to Belinda’s heart as she has both a niece and a nephew with autism.

“I am happy that Covelli Enterprises devotes a whole week to raise funds and mostly awareness to our communities and our associates. It starts a conversation of what autism is and how we as a community can help.”

For Bashir, it’s the children, like Belinda’s niece and nephew, who are the most important thing.

“When I was designing the t-shirt, I already decided that the design was a gift for them,” he said.

Bashir donated the $100 prize he won through the contest back to the cause.

This is Bashir.

Belinda was very proud and excited that the winning design came from her cafe, but even more, she was touched by Bashir’s generosity.

“Anything he can do to support children with autism is more important than any prize won. How amazing is that?” she said. “In my eyes that makes him a rare individual.”

Bashir would like to thank Mr. Covelli for all of the charities his company supports. He also extends his gratitude to Belinda and all who work for Panera.

“I would like to take a moment to thank you for the chance to design something for this great campaign. I’m very proud to work for a company that supports great causes and organizations. Win or lose, my goal in my design was to show support for the children and do my best for them,” he said.

“Now let’s sell some cookies!”

Look for Bashir’s winning t-shirt design on the backs of every Covelli Panera employee this April 8-14 during the Pieces of Hope for Autism cookie sale. 100% of proceeds from every puzzle piece cookie sold will be donated to autism organizations in the communities we serve. To date, the campaign has raised more than $2 million for our partners.

Cookies can be pre-ordered now at Covelli.com/autism.

Click here to see highlights from last year’s campaign.

A special thanks to all Panera employees who submitted design ideas for this year’s contest!

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