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It's not often we respond in print to Valentines from other publications. In Buffalo, in fact, it's not often we get them. But this week's selection of Buffalo as America's "City With A Heart" by the national newspaper USA Today helps tell the world what we've known all along: The people of Western New York make this a great place to live.

Snow? We deal with it. Economy? We're clawing our way back, no matter how long it takes. The heart of this city beats with a warmth that can handle any snowstorm and a strength that makes us immune to cheap ridicule.

The Buffalonians who responded to USA Today's call for comments deserve thanks for being our advocates. They welcomed reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman to Buffalo with plates of Anchor Bar wings, and told stories. Buffalonians always tell stories. If you're looking for heart, that's all it really takes.

"When people do small things for one another, they tend to want to reciprocate," said Nancy Lynch. "When the cycle is repeated over and over again over the years, you end up with a City with Heart."

There's a challenge in that, for all of us. We must keep that cycle unbroken.

USA Today acknowledged some of the things that make us an attractive city - art, architecture, museums, botanical gardens and sports. But it found the heart of Buffalo in the things that make it a community - the volunteerism at such places as Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Friends of the Night People, the generosity of Buffalonians, the colorful mix of ethnic cultures and values and the "unreflective kindness of strangers, the shared pursuit of the public good."

Buffalo meets adversity with acts of kindness, our advocates told the nation. "You have to catch someone in the act just to thank them," said Linda Storz.

So much for Buffalo's reputation for cold.

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