SUMMIT, NJ - Sweet Nothings has kicked off Autism Awareness month in the Summit area with a little inspiration from a ten-year-old boy named Zachary.

When Zachary’s twin brother Jack was diagnosed with autism, his aunt Donna Puzella, owner of Sweet Nothings, began a campaign downtown to raise awareness for the cause. While a few businesses jumped on board, Zachary kicked the campaign into gear.

“He wanted to get more involved and be part of the downtown campaign,” said Puzella. “We started walking around town to see if we could solicit participation.”

Zachary’s story made business “open their hearts” and participate in autism awareness month. According to Zachary and Puzella, businesses can participate by donating part of the profits to autism awareness, having a spare change jar in their business or even simply just hanging a sign in their store.

Zachary isn’t ending his campaign at businesses, he’s also targeting schools and the police department. Brayton Elementary School and the Summit Police Department are both supporting autism awareness as well.

“It’s called the autism awareness campaign, and we want to spread awareness about it so when people grow up, they can tell others,” Zachary said.

Zachary’s been inspired by his brother and chooses to educate his friends, classmates and businesses about autism so that they better understand it. At school, he was able to get his principal on board to support autism awareness, as well as set up a collection jar outside the office for the second year in a row.

“My favorite part of doing the campaign at my school is making the announcement because the whole school gets to hear me and my story,” he said. “And it’s kind of touching.”

Zachary will be speaking both at his elementary school and at Oratory Preparatory High School this month. He hopes to continue to raise awareness for his cause.

Jack, Zachary’s twin brother, attends EPIC School in Paramus, NJ. They willingly accept donations, as does www.autismspeaks.org. Local businesses are offering different types of promotions for the month, so it is important to check with each business to see when they are supporting the cause.

The full list of businesses participating in Autism Awareness month includes: Sweet Nothings, Silver Lining, Anspach Opticians, Beacon Hill Tavern, The UPS Store of Summit, Zoom, Apricot Lane, Willow St., Tito's Burritos, Peter Wallburg Studios, The Hat Tavern, Beauty Lounge, Lois Schneider Realtor, Woodward Properties, Brain
Balance Center, Temple Sinai of Summit and the Summit Police Department.

Sweet Nothings will be donating a portion of their profits for the month of April and Beauty Lounge will also be hosting a bake sale on April 20 to raise money for the cause.

Anyone interested in helping out can call Sweet Nothings at (908) 522-0888.