We are so proud of our town of Ottawa.

For the past couple of years, Iíve wanted to express our appreciation to those who are responsible for the beautiful flowers on the corners of our downtown area. We travel quite often to other towns and states, and to see this beauty in our town is so refreshing. Iím more than positive that those who pass through enjoy this also. Thank you to whomever is responsible.

Further, where except in Ottawa do we see people step up to help others in need? I volunteer at Hope House once a week, and to see the food that came in through the recent U.S. Post Office collection is much appreciated by those less fortunate. Thank you, each and every one.

Not only that, but the response to the needs of the Larry Lintner family made my heart soar. We attended the benefit program at Ottawa Municipal Auditorium. To those who are not familiar with the family, its members have had some tough luck. Because of the economy, Larry Lintner lost his job a couple of years ago, and he lost his health insurance at the same time. He has more recently been diagnosed with cancer and is having to take treatments.

The benefit program was more that enjoyable. Larry Lintner even took the stage for the last portion of the program. Man alive, can that man pick a guitar and banjo? It is a joy to play with him, but more of a joy to watch him play. He and his wife, Audrey, have done many benefit programs and entertainment for free, and now it is their time to be on the receiving end. Again, the community stepped up to the plate to sponsor this benefit.

Now Iím going to shift gears. To the Ottawa Middle School student who wrote to The Herald thinking that Ottawa should have more activities for children who are bored, I can think of many things depending on the age of the child.

For the little ones, take them to either Forest Park or City Park to play on the playground equipment. There are dance lessons, gymnastics, 4-H, summer softball or baseball, music lessons, swimming lessons, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church Bible school this summer or Sunday school. You donít have to attend church to attend Bible school.

How about taking a camera and going for a walk? Let your little ones take photos of pretty flowers or perhaps a bird nest. Look around you. There are many things to do or see. How about a summer evening picnic supper at the park? Let them help plan the menu or bake cupcakes to take. Our little 7-year-old granddaughter recently was telling me that this summer she will be playing softball, going to 4-H, gymnastics, swimming lessons and wants me to teach her piano lessons. To my delight, I shall pursue this request. Parents, please donít think that someone else should baby-sit your child for free for the summer. It takes a little endeavor from the parent to make it fun.

Older children of middle-school and high-school age should be old enough to volunteer to help others. Volunteers always are needed at Hope House. Take a book and go visit the old folks at the nursing home. Those who cannot read might enjoy having someone read to them. Do these young people like to play in the dirt? How about helping with the new community garden? Do they drive? Meals on Wheels always can use delivery help. Perhaps mow yards for widow women or neighbors. There is the skate park and swimming pool. Summer classes are always available at either Neosho County Community College or Ottawa University.

It might surprise the children that boredom is no longer in their vocabulary. Helping others can be fun. What other activities do you suggest? Think. Just listen, God may be speaking to you. Let me say once again, weíre proud to live in Ottawa where weíve made our home since 1960.

ó Norma Lee Bird, Ottawa