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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. The lighting of a giant community menorah at 7 p.m. will signal the first night of Hanukkah. The menorah, one of the tallest in the country, is located outside the office of Dr. Jeffrey Meilman, 811 Maple Road, Amherst. The ceremony will feature song and dance, and Hanukkah doughnuts. Afterwards, a grand car menorah parade will drive through Amherst and Buffalo to light up the streets with the lights of Hanukkah.

2. Postal officials expect today will be the busiest mailing day of the holiday season. If you've been putting off mailing your holiday cards and packages, this is the deadline for first-class mail, which includes most holiday cards, to make it to their destination before Christmas. The last day for priority mail is Wednesday, and the deadline for express delivery is Thursday.

3. The giving spirit of the season is alive and well at Sisters Hospital. Associates at more than 45 departments at the hospital's Main Street and St. Joseph campuses have purchased Christmas gifts for about 55 local families in need. The Rev. Richard "Duke" Zajac and the Rev. Lou Klein will bless the gifts before they are distributed at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the St. Joseph campus, 2605 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga, and at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the lobby of the 2157 Main St. location.

4. Ham, turkey, yams and pie. All the right ingredients for a holiday meal will be served by Buffalo City Mission residents, staff and volunteers to hundreds of poor and homeless Western New Yorkers during the Christmas Community Meal. Serving begins at noon at the Mission's 100 E. Tupper St. location. Each person who attends also can receive a pair of new socks, gloves and a hat to help keep warm.

5. Construction begins with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the new $53 million hotel project at Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd., Salamanca. Construction plans include about 200 hotel rooms at the resort, which virtually doubles its current capacity. Each year, more than 3 million people visit the resort, which opened in 2004.

6. It's the last day of the naming contest for a life-sized cast of a 26-foot-long albertosaurus -- a relative of the tyrannosaurus that walked the planet 70 million years ago -- located in the Buffalo Museum of Science. Name suggestions can be submitted through the museum's Facebook page or through forms available at the museum. Lise Buyer, who partly funded the giant casts of bones, will choose the top 10 names, and the community will vote on the winner, which will be announced Jan. 19.

7. Carl Paladino, founder and chairman of Ellicott Development, is the featured speaker in the lecture series "Imagine Buffalo Niagara in the 21st Century: Why Does Preservation Matter?" from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in the Ring of Knowledge on the main floor near Fables Cafe at the Central Library on Lafayette Square. The series is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History and Nature and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

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