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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Annual drive reaches 97% of $11 million goal

Catholic Charities' annual appeal has reached nearly 97 percent of its $11 million goal, campaign leaders said Thursday.

A total of $711,137 in cash and pledges has been collected since the 2007 appeal went into overtime April 1 with $9.9 million in hand -- 10 percent short of the target. Another $366,631 is needed.

"The progress we've seen just since Palm Sunday has been wonderful," said the Rev. Joseph J. Sicari, diocesan director of Catholic Charities. "We will continue to work toward our goal, because at the end of the day, all of this work is done for the individuals in this community who need these services."

So far, Erie County parishes have collected about $7.25 million -- about $350,000 less than a year ago -- Sicari said. Nine have exceeded their 2006 contributions, led by Queen of Peace and St. Francis Xavier in Buffalo, up nearly 48 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

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Delaware Park event to fight spread of AIDS

A "Walk for Life" to raise both awareness and money to combat the spread of AIDS and other illnesses will be held June 30 in Delaware Park, under the sponsorship of the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of Buffalo.

Churches and organizations that want to participate and use the event to raise funds for their work must submit a letter of intent to the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of Buffalo, P.O. Box 1018, Buffalo NY 14209. The registration deadline is April 30, and the fee is $200. For more information, contact Donna Chapman at 898-3771 or blcawalk2007@yahoo.com.

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Brush Up Buffalo needs corporate sponsorships

Brush Up Buffalo, a nonprofit volunteer organization aimed at revitalizing the city's neighborhoods, plans to paint 10 homes occupied by low-income residents on Buffalo's West Side.

This year's project was announced Thursday at the group's kickoff breakfast. More than 700 volunteers have signed up to participate in this year's event, June 16 in the Plymouth Avenue-Hudson Street area. Brush Up Buffalo still is seeking corporate sponsors. For more information, call 250-3353.

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Schumer calls for an end to fees for filing online

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Wednesday called on the IRS to eliminate fees for filing tax returns online, which he said cost taxpayers in upstate New York almost $22 million this year. Schumer accused the agency of striking deals with paid preparers and software companies that are concerned free e-filing would hit their bottom line. Filing returns online saves the IRS millions in processing expenses, he added.

"The bottom line is that the IRS is imposing an additional 'tax' on people paying their taxes," Schumer told reporters in a conference call. "Filing online eases the burden on the IRS and their idea of thanks is charging a fee."

Schumer said he will be lodging his complaint in a letter to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson.

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