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TREASURE CHEST: To lift the spirits of young patients at Women and Children's Hospital, Clarence sophomore Alex Luzi created a "Treasure Chest of Wishes," a painted treasure chest engraved with the children's wishes, ranging from light-hearted to truly touching. "I bought this chest at Michael's and I told the kids that if they wanted to write their wishes on it that they could," Alex said. The chest was auctioned off for $560 at the hospital's recent Festival of Trees to benefit the hospital. Alex's project began as a series of art lessons taught in the course of eight weeks at the hospital. She worked with Stone's Buddies director Joanne Lana. According to the organization's Web site, Stone's Buddies "brings seriously ill young children and teens who are patients at Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, as well as the family members who love them, a special program that recognizes their courage and provides a network of support to help sthem cope with their daily lives."

"It was really fun," Alex said. "I definitely learned something from them, but it was sad, coming in and seeing them. It was just really hard. She is currently taking two art classes, one of which is typically for juniors and seniors, and says she is interested in art as a career. "I learned that you should always try to help out people because everything's not about you, and you can use what you have and share it."

-- Allison Eck, Clarence


ACTING OPPORTUNITY: Young actors 11 and up are invited to audition for roles with Theatre for Change Incorporated, a theater program which uses theater to do interactive workshops on domestic violence, diversity, substance abuse, health care and other issues. (Adult actors are also needed.) Auditions are by appointment only for various roles in upcoming projects in February and beyond. No monologues are necessary. All actors are paid. Those interested in auditioning should call artistic director Darleen Pickering Hummert at 883-7942 for more information and to make an appointment. Actors under 18 must have a parent call.


FITNESS FUN: The YMCA Buffalo Niagara is holding a Family Week, with crafts, games, open swim, yoga and more for both adults and kids, at its area branches from Tuesday through Dec. 31. The YMCA will waive the join fee (a savings of up to $100) for those who become YMCA members during that week. Find more information at or call 565-6000.


HOST FAMILIES WANTED: International Fellowship, an exchange program based in Westfield, is seeking host households in the Buffalo area for high school foreign exchange students for the summer, semester or academic year. For information, go online to Or call (800) 647-8839 during business hours.


MENTORS NEEDED: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Erie County is looking for high school juniors and seniors to volunteer as mentors for children in the site-based mentoring program. Matches meet one day a week at a Buffalo school or community center to help with homework, play board games or simply talk about their day. To learn more, call 873-5833 or visit:


NeXt Editor: Jean Westmoore

Graphic designer: Christina Visco

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