1. Running ideas up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes will be the mission of the new Canisius College Focus Group Facility, which opens today in Suite 130 of the college’s Center for Professional Development, 300 Corporate Parkway, Amherst. Created in partnership with marketing research firms Insight Associates and Ruth Diamond/Cornerstone Research, it includes, according to Insight Chairman Ray Owczarzak, “the latest audio and video recording capabilities, experienced recruiting, fast and accurate transcription services and additional amenities, such as a food and beverage service.” For information, call 362-0400.
2. Two leading local African-American poets and playwrights will be featured as the Gray Hair Reading Series, presented by Earth’s Daughters, resumes for its seventh season at 7:30 p.m. in Hallwalls, 341 Delaware Ave. Taking the stage will be Lorna Hill, founder and artistic director of the Ujima Theater Company, and Annette Daniels-Taylor, who won an Artie Award in 2009 for her play “A Little Bit of Paradise.” Tickets are $5.
3. Christmas will arrive 13 days early for the senior residents of Seneca Health Care Center, 2987 Seneca St., West Seneca. Santa will show up at 12:30 p.m. to hear holiday wishes. Students from West Seneca schools will drop by at 3:30 to sing carols. Rounding out the day at 5 will be a community Christmas tree-lighting outdoors, with refreshments to follow.
4. HeadStone Heat, Buffalo-based purveyors of gourmet hot sauces, is hosting another Saucy Soiree hot sauce tasting at 7 p.m. in Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St. The evening will feature live musical and stage entertainment, along with hors d’oeuvres. Suggested donation of $5 will benefit Homespace, which assists pregnant and parenting youtng people ages 14 to 21. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of HeadStone Heat hot sauces also will go to Homespace. Unwrapped gifts for children up to age 5 also will be appreciated.
5. The number 12 has a special meaning for Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who wore it during his glory years with Bills. To celebrate today’s date, 12/12/12, Kelly has arranged for a number of restaurants in the Buffalo area to donate 12 percent of their sales to his charity, Hunter’s Hope Foundation, which supports research and testing for Krabbe leukodystrophy and other nervous system diseases in children. Taking part in Dine Out for Hope are Acropolis, E.B. Green’s, Ilio DiPaolo’s, Mulberry Italian Ristorante, Riley’s Bar & Grill, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, the Poppyseed and the three Tully’s locations.
6. Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association Local 282, the Buffalo Fire Department and Urban Valet Dry Cleaners outdid themselves this year for the second annual Extinguish the Cold Coat Drive. They collected more 750 new and gently used winter coats at Buffalo firehouses during the past two months, and then Urban Valet did the cleaning. At 11 a.m. today, the coats will be divided up at Urban Valet’s 620 Elmwood Ave. location and given to Fire Department chaplains, who will distribute them to people who could not otherwise afford them.
7. It’s been almost a year since cellist Alexandra Lawn left the Syracuse-based indie rock band Ra Ra Riot, and her departure has prompted an evolution in its style from the lush chamber pop sound that filled its 2010 CD, “The Orchard,” to something more rhythmic and synthesizer-based on the upcoming release, “Beta Love,” which is due in January. The band will give a preview when it pays a return visit tonight to Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St. Doors open at 7. Tickets are $15.