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OUR OPINION: Thanks, Greater GF Sertoma Club

It was a federal holiday, so government offices and many businesses were closed. But there was nothing quiet about downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks on Friday, July 4.

It was a federal holiday, so government offices and many businesses were closed. But there was nothing quiet about downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks on Friday, July 4.

Visitors enjoyed a daylong festival that culminated in the evening with a spectacular fireworks display.

And while it was easy to enjoy entertainment such as the kiddie parade, the Cutest Baby contest, juggler Travis Dockter and the fireworks themselves, it also was easy to take the whole lineup for granted.

That would be a mistake.

The acts didn't appear by magic, and the evening's explosive peonies and chrysanthemums didn't just rocket skyward and spontaneously combust. They showed up because of planning.

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And this year, as happens so many years in Grand Forks, the Greater Grand Forks Sertoma Club did the planning and then carried out the task.

The club's efforts are greatly appreciated.

This year marks the Sertoma Club's 50th anniversary in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Sertoma stands for "Service To Mankind"; year in and year out, that's exactly what the Sertoma Club delivers, making life better for people in the Grand Cities one civic event at a time.

Besides organizing the Fourth of July festivities, the club also is co-sponsoring an especially notable charity this year: Ali's Boundless Playground.

"It's Ali Karpenko's dream to have a community playground that is accessible to children with disabilities," the Sertoma club's Web site, www.gfsertoma.com , reports.

"With the support of her friends, family and various community organizations, she is working to raise $200,000 for a new Boundless Playground to be constructed in Grand Forks, ND in 2008.

"Ali, age 13, was born with spina bifida. 'I am very blessed, as I have a very mild case of it. Many of the problems I face are hidden to most, as I am very physically able. I did not begin the playground project for myself. I'm doing it for the kids like me who have a disability, but aren't as lucky as I am.'

"The Grand Forks Park District has donated land in Sertoma Park and will assist in the construction and on-going maintenance of the playground. Two local organizations, Grand Forks Sertoma Club and The Arc, Upper Valley have teamed up to assist Ali in her marketing and fundraising efforts which will include soliciting donations from local residents and businesses."

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Again, that playground isn't just going to appear one day. Every facet of the planning, fundraising, construction and so on involves work -- work that Sertoma Club members, not to mention Ali karpenko and many civic-minded others, gladly and selflessly carry out.

Grand Forks and East Grand Forks would be noticeably less pleasant communities in the Sertoma Club's absence. For their steady and inspiring efforts to improve the local quality of life, the club members have earned the community's thanks.

-- Tom Dennis for the Herald

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