1. Donors at the American Red Cross blood center at 786 Delaware Ave. were greeted by the smiling face of volunteer John Russo every Monday and Thursday for many years. Russo also was a lifelong blood donor, giving 77 gallons. Russo died in December, but his spirit will become a permanent part of the center this morning when the canteen there is named in his honor. Through Sunday, the Red Cross is having a Memorial Donation Week, with cards for people to write memories and share their reasons for donating blood. For an appointment, call (800) RED CROSS.
2. Sen. Charles E. Schumer drops in this afternoon at the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St., soon to be the home of Ceno Technologies, to talk about rare earth elements. For its research and development, Ceno relies heavily on rare earth elements, something the Chinese have cornered the market in and jacked up the prices, possibly in violation of international law. Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to use the occasion, on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington, to announce he is pushing U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to demand that the Chinese lighten up their pricing on these elements.
3. Kids in need will benefit on two fronts today. For those who are cold, the Western New York chapter of the Knights of Columbus will bring 300 new winter coats to St. Luke's Mission of Mercy on Buffalo's East Side for distribution to needy youngsters. For those without computers, Buffalo ReuseIT makes a presentation in its Great Arrow Avenue headquarters of refurbished machines to the children served by Gateway-Longview's foster care program.
4. When it comes to spending money, everyone has ideas of what to do with it. The Cheektowaga Town Board, looking ahead to receiving more than $1 million in 2011 community block grants, is inviting people to tell them where the money would do the most good. The board will hold a public hearing on the grants when it meets tonight in Town Hall. Comments also can be submitted in writing to the Cheektowaga Community Development Office, 275 Alexander Ave., Cheektowaga, NY 14211.
5. Don't go looking for a Town Board meeting in Amherst Town Hall tonight. The board has moved up its usual 7 p.m. session to 3 p.m. It's one of seven afternoon sessions planned this year. Some Amherst officials would like to see early meetings all the time. On the plus side, it means department heads won't need to use comp time to make up for attending night meetings. On the negative side, residents who come to the meetings at night think that this arrangement could make the board less accessible.
6. Starting up again for the spring semester are the Buffalo Film Seminars, hosted by University at Buffalo professors Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian at 7 p.m. each Tuesday in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main St. They are beginning with a silent film blockbuster, the restored version of German director Fritz Lang's futuristic 1927 "Metropolis." A discussion of the film will follow. "Metropolis" also is showing at 7 p.m. nightly through Thursday in the Hamburg Palace Theatre, 31 Buffalo St.
7. Recent movies released on DVD today include "Animal Kingdom," the British film about a teen trying to deal with his criminal family, and "Jack Goes Boating," starring and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Over in the music racks, there are new CDs by the Decemberists ("The King Is Dead") and Gregg Allman ("Low Country Blues").