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COOKIE LIFT: Local Girl Scouts have come up with a way to support the troops in Iraq -- by mailing overseas more than 2,500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies! Girls from Troops 253, 890 and 38 other troops in the Dodge Service Unit plus Scouts from the Clarence Service Unit (including Brownies as young as 7 and 8 years old, right up to Cadettes in their teens) sold cookies to be donated to the troops in a "Gift of Caring" project spearheaded by Dodge Service Unit's Troop Leader Cheryl Carr (Cadette Troop 253). The girls in Dodge sold nearly 2,000 boxes of cookies for donation, and the cookies will be sent to members of the 827th Engineering Company and First Battalion/108th Bravo Company, Army National Guard, both based at the Masten Armory. Helping with the project were two local businesses, Mod-Pac Corp., which helped with packing supplies, and Northrop Grumman Amherst Systems, which paid shipping costs. Another 500 boxes of cookies will be shared with National Guard families in Western New York. Last year's donated cookies went to the 105th Military Police.

CONTEST: How does a $100,000 college scholarship sound? That's the grand prize in a national essay contest sponsored by Campbell's Tomato Soup, NBC's "American Dreams" show and Scholastic. The contest is open to teens 13 to 18 in grades 9 to 12 across the country. The essay asks: "How does your American Dream compare to that of your parents?" To enter, go online to Deadline is Nov. 30. Ten finalists will be announced Feb. 6 and the grand prize winner Feb. 11. A parallel story line on the "American Dreams" television show, Patty Pror (Sarah Ramos) will enter a similar essay contest.

GOING PLACES: Girls 12 to 18 are invited to compete for scholarships of $10,000, $5,000, $3,000 or $1,000 in the Guardian Life Insurance Company's 2005 Girls Going Places Scholarship Program, a national competition that rewards girls with an interest in business. Adults are asked to nominate girls -- who could be a daughter, niece, neighbor or student -- by submitting a 750 to 1,000-word essay on why the nominee deserves a Girls Going Places award. Entries will be accepted through Feb. 25. Find nomination forms and more information online at

RED RIBBON CONTEST: Winners of the third Red Ribbon Coloring/Essay Contest, an annual program honoring drug-fighting efforts symbolized by the 1996 slaying of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent in Mexico. Prizes were $30, $20 and $10 gift certificates from Toys R Us and entrants participated throughr Boys and Girls Clubs. Coloring contest winners were: first, Casey Jones (Buffalo United School), second, Jacquelyn Travis (Hyde Park), third, Dounaejah Barton, Windermere; poster contest (grades 3 to 5), first, Mariah Kuhn (City Honors), second, Candice Selbert, Cleveland Hill, third, Dilanteyz Henton, Buffalo School 77; essay contest (grades 6 to 8), first, Jessica Hernandez (Herman Badillo); second, Cebrinn Hill, School 45; third, Courtney Bush, Windermere Middle.

NeXt Editor: Jean Westmoore (849-4076)

Graphic designer: Christina Visco

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