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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Buffalo Dream Center gives out 'Boxes of Love'

"Boxes of Love" were distributed to inner-city neighborhoods this weekend.

The boxes of toys and food were distributed Friday and Saturday as part of a Christmas campaign to give food to 3,000 families this Christmas. The campaign also hoped to distribute 5,000 wrapped Christmas gifts to needy children, said the Rev. Eric Johns, pastor of the Buffalo Dream Center, who spent five days with the homeless recently in an effort to draw attention to the less fortunate during the holiday season.

A volunteer team from across the United States wrapped gifts and packed food last week for distribution this weekend.

Donations of new unwrapped toys, turkeys, cash, and gifts for teenagers are needed still, Johns said. To help support Buffalo Dream Center's Boxes of Love program, call 854-1001.

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Families hail renewal of tuition tax break

A college tuition tax deduction program the U.S. Senate extended Saturday is popular with Western New Yorkers.

Some 18,707 families in Western New York took advantage of the college tuition tax deduction in 2003, the most recent year for which numbers are available, according to a statement from Sen. Charles E. Schumer's office.

Over the past five years, the average price of going to college in Western New York increased by 35 percent, rising from $8,596 in 2001 to $11,584 in 2006, the statement said.

Schumer authored the college tuition tax deduction, which allows middle-class families to deduct up to $4,000 in tuition costs. The deduction was scheduled to expire this year, if not extended, as it was on Saturday by the House and Senate.

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Residents appreciate Christmas Day visitors

Anyone looking for a meaningful way to share the Christmas spirit is invited to stop by the Erie County Home on Christmas Day and visit with one or more of the residents who would be alone otherwise. Of the home's 550 residents, about 120 have no family and will receive no visitors during the holidays, officials said.

Visiting hours for those residents will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Christmas day. Volunteers stationed at the main entrance will have the names of residents who would otherwise have no visitors, along with any information about them that might be helpful to a visitor.

Individuals and families are welcome, and the residents especially enjoy visits from children. Gifts are not necessary, but a small plant or room decoration would be appropriate, officials said.

The Erie County Home is at 11580 Walden Ave., Alden. For more information, call 937-5640.

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New assemblyman sets open house, food drive

Assemblyman Mike Cole, R-Alden, will hold his debut holiday open house and food drive from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday in his district office, 5763 Seneca St., Elma.

Guests are invited to bring canned goods or other nonperishable food items for local food pantries. For more information, call 675-7170.

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