JAMESTOWN, NY- This week, "WNY's Great Kids" is highlighting a teen from Jamestown who is giving back to a place that helped him, and is helping other families who have loved ones with autism, and he's doing it one nickel at a time.
Christopher Decker, 14, loves fidget spinners. He would collect bottles and cans and use the redemption money to by them.
"He had a whole box of them and I was like, 'OK, this is enough. Enough toys. Let's do something different,'" said Christopher's mother, Amanda Martinelli.
Finding something different to do with the money was easy for Christopher. He is mostly non-verbal because of disabilities he suffered as a result of meningitis and encephalitis as a toddler. He also has behavioral, impulse and seizure disorders, as well as autism.
For more than a decade, Christopher and his mother have depended on The Resource Center in Chautauqua County for help.
"They're like family. So they've been there for us. They've helped us out. They've gotten him where he needs to be today," said Martinelli.
That's why they want to give back. So for months now, every nickel from the cans and the bottles Christopher has collected is going to autism services at The Resource Center.
"We're just so excited that this young man took this initiative and is helping step up for autism," said Victoria Bardo of The Resource Center.
Christopher has collected more than 3,000 bottles and cans thanks to donations from family, friends, Jamestown businesses, and Amanda's co-workers at the Holiday Inn. The redemption center is even giving Christopher 6 cents back instead of 5. So now Christopher's raised about $200. His goal is $300.
Christopher's mother says this bottle and can drive is teaching him responsibility, social skills, and most importantly, selflessness.
"Doing something nice to hand over to someone else, it's a blessing," said Martinelli.
Christopher will be collecting the cans and bottles throughout September. Then he'll be presenting The Resource Center with his final donation at Step Up for Autism on September 30th, which is an event to raise awareness about autism in Chautauqua County.
For more information about Step Up For Autism, click here, or call 716-661-1477.
If you'd like to make a bottle or monetary donation to Christopher, call 716-485-1122.
To nominate a "Great Kid" to be featured by Channel 2 News, e-mail Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com or call 716-849-2216.