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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Toll-free Christmas to spread some cheer

Motorists will be able to cross the Peace Bridge toll-free on Christmas, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority announced Friday.

"We wanted to look at ways that we could say 'thank-you' to our customers and employees," said Ron Rienas, the authority's general manager. "By not charging tolls on Christmas, we're able to spread some holiday cheer and give as many of our employees as possible an opportunity to spend the day with their families."

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Benefit planned tonight for Officer Parete

A benefit for Buffalo Police Officer Patricia A. Parete will be held tonight in an Allentown club.

The event begins at 9 p.m. in Cathode Ray, 26 Allen St.

Parete and Officer Carl E. Andolina were shot at close range Dec. 5 while investigating the report of a disturbance at a gas station at Chippewa Street and Elmwood Avenue.

Andolina is recovering at home after a short stay in the hospital, but Parete remains in serious condition in Erie County Medical Center.

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New immigrants offered empowerment program

The International Institute of Buffalo is offering recent immigrants and refugees a new Civic Empowerment Program.

The program is designed to introduce immigrant groups to various community revitalization efforts, and to help them gain the tools necessary for public advocacy and organizing.

For more information on the program, contact Ann Breidenstein at
adminvolunteer@iibuf.org, or call 883-1900, Ext. 303.

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Free Christmas trees for needy on Sunday

Free Christmas trees for the needy will be available Sunday in the Town of Tonawanda.

The annual giveaway will be held between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the back parking lot of Philip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave. Volunteers will help load trees into vehicles.

The tradition was started by former Erie County Legislator Charles Swanick and brothers Tom and David Arida, owners of Arida Tree Farms.

After 1 p.m., remaining trees will be left for others to take. Those not claimed will be mulched by the Town of Tonawanda Highway Department.

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Tops donates supplies to refugee students

Refugee children, who often arrive in Buffalo with little more than the clothes on their backs, will benefit from $4,100 worth of school supplies donated by the Tops market at Grant and Amherst streets.

Tops gave the materials to the International Institute of Buffalo, which resettles 200-250 refugees a year.

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