Everyone can make a difference in their community

It was Christmas in February last Thursday night in North Augusta as Mr. and Mrs. Claus were honored as the 2012 North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Citizens of the Year.

Well, not literally.

Jim and Carolyn Baggott were introduced by the roles they consistently play in North Augusta's annual Christmas parade and tree-lighting celebrations.

The Baggotts have lived in North Augusta since 1963, and since that time, have served in numerous capacities in and around the city.

They also serve as an inspiration to what kind of difference one can make in the community.

Jim's roles include having served on the Aiken County Planning and Zoning Commission for 18 years, as well as having served for two terms on Aiken County Council and 21 years as a state constable.

Jim also has spent countless hours with the North Augusta Jaycees, of which he was president in 1971.

Carolyn is a North Augusta City Council member, having been first elected in 1991 and re-elected ever since. She is a charter member of the Old Towne Preservation Association and was heavily involved in the development of the Living History Park. Jim and Carolyn have both been active for more than 20 years in activities at the Living History Park as colonial re-enactors.

In a tearful acceptance in front of a large crowd at North Augusta's annual chamber dinner, Jim pointed to his children and grandchildren as an inspiration for his continued community involvement. He said he and his wife could both idly step aside, or at least tone down their high level of involvement in the community and let others take the reigns, but instead, their goal is to help create a better, brighter future for North Augusta. It may not be one that they will see fully realized, but it is one that their families will continue to live and grow up in.

This doesn't mean that everyone should strive to be public servants for decades, like the Baggotts. It doesn't matter how big or small a contribution residents make; all that matters is that North Augusta residents strive to do something to help improve our lovely city.

Getting out and volunteering, supporting the community through fundraisers or even opening your home to foster a homeless animal - these are all things we can do. It may seem to pale in comparison to the lofty accomplishments of Jim and Carolyn Baggott, but it is all for the greater good of North Augusta.

Keynote speaker Rick Grandinetti emphasized the importance of serving others, going as far as to say that it leads to a lifetime's worth of happiness. His final point, which was accompanied by a video of Derek Redmond's memorable run in the 1992 Summer Olympics, was the importance of having one another's back. We, as a community, should be able to also have each other's backs.

We could all benefit from taking a look at what Jim and Carolyn Baggott have done for North Augusta. If we all chipped in a bit, we could help not only make this city great for their children and grandchildren, but our own as well.

We congratulate Jim and Carolyn Baggott for an award that is more than well-deserved.