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"There has been a lot of talk about the way people from the Bills do things for the community. Yet we don't hear about the wives since you stopped writing about their activities. Have the movers behind those activities departed?"

First off, we have to go back to the line that goes, "Different players from the Bills do things for the community." That in turn brings to mind an old mother-in-law joke.

That's the one that says, "Behind every successful man there is a mother-in-law, shaking her head in amazement."

Anyway, it says here that the ideas for the contributions to the community come from the daughters of those bewildered ladies. And, as I wrote those words, I had to think of the Sunday features done with help from wives of current and former Bills -- Jodie Bentley, Sharon Pike, Pat Brammer, Marcie Lingner and Beverly Lofton.

Add more names to that list -- that of Tammy Jeffcoat and Alice Butler. Mrs. Jeffcoat is chairwoman of the 19th annual "Cans From Fans" drive, which is sponsored by the Salvation Army and the Bills. As such, she has recruited the wives of other players to collect cans of food and non-perishable items at all the Rich Stadium gates before the Nov. 3 game against the Washington Redskins.

Mrs. Butler is working with area elementary schools to see if their contribution will go over the 3,000-mark set in 1995.

It says here that the charming lady will succeed in passing that goal.

Unless that line has been copyrighted by coaches, one could say, "This will be a team effort." Among the 200 volunteers will be people from the Salvation Army, the Buffalo Bills Boosters Club, the Buffalo Bills Backers Clubs, Mount St. Mary's Academy and students from other area schools.

Ernie Warlick is one of many former Bills who will also help the drive that in 1995 brought in 20,400 cans and more than $3,000 in cash. Much of the cash comes from people who forgot about the food drive. You probably know such fans.

One day last week I asked someone why the Bills had this drive on Nov. 3. Being the suspicious sort, I wondered why that date was chosen when a non-conference team was the opponent.

"Take another look st the schedule. You'll find the answer there," a Bills spokesman said. "First, we like to make it close to Thanksgiving but not too close. The next home game would be against the Bengals on the 17th, and that is another non-conference game.

"The next conference game is against the Jets on the 24th, and that will be too close to Thanksgiving. That wouldn't work because We want to make sure the people for whom this food is intended will have something to eat at Thanksgiving."

You can be sure that among those wishing the two teams are still riding high will be more than the coaches and players from both clubs. The volunteer workers will also be rooting.

They will also be hoping the day of the big game dawns crisp and clear, as it does in sports books.

"Masquerade Buffalo." Saturday's fund-raiser of the same name is hailed as "this area's largest costume party." And anyone who wants to argue with that assessment by Marilyn Singer should contact such locals as attorneys Herb Siegel, LeRoi Johnson, restaurateur Mike Militello or Mrs. Singer.

The participating restaurants are Militello's own Bijou Grille, the Havana Fumatore, the Havana Club, Club Marsella and Katrina's.

The affair will be co-sponsored by Channel 4, and all profits will go to the Arts in Education Institute. Alden Schutte and his associates at the Schutte Group are handling all marketing, creative and public relations for this event.

Oh, yes, the ticket price is $25 per person and $30 at the door.

Today's score: Bills 22, Dolphins 17.

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