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Hayley Cosner, a sophomore at Abington Heights, believes in acts of kindness. She tells of her efforts to be kind, “There is not enough positivity in the world,” she said. “Every person needs some positive affirmation in their lives.”

With this attitude toward life, Cosner is conducting a service project. As part of the Remembering Zachary Project, she is collecting adult and children’s books in English and Spanish to be given to the Friendship House, the Women’s Resource Center and the Gino Merli Veterans’ Center. Cosner has taken part in this project for the last six years. This year, she has placed a box in the vestibule of The Gathering Place and hopes to top her last collection of 100 books.

The Remembering Zachary Project raises awareness of a young boy who was abused and killed when he was 15 months old. Cosner feels strongly that “people know his story. That’s what’s important to me. When they know Zachary’s story, they want to help.”

The project is centered around efforts to stop child abuse. Zachary, nicknamed “Meatball” by his friends and family for his chubby cheeks and ready smile, attended Cosner’s mother’s preschool. She often played with Zachary at the school and had a special bond with him since they both had the same birthdays. His death by abuse was a shock to all who knew him.

After his death, Zachary’s mother and friends campaigned for legislation to increase the penalty for killing a child. Their efforts were rewarded when, in 2014, PA House Bill No. 112 was passed, making a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years for murder of a child younger than 13.

Cosner’s project is dedicated to Zachary’s memory. For each book donated, a sticker will be put on the front page reading, “In honor of Zachary born 2004, died 2005.”

Books may be dropped off at The Gathering Place, 304 S. State St. in Clarks Summit. For more information, visit the Remembering Zachary Project on Facebook or call 570-881-7612.

Hayley Cosner, an Abington Heights sophomore, is running a book drive to raise awareness about child abuse at The Gathering Place.