Del Norte County is full of good citizens who care about this community and freely give their time and money for the betterment of others. Recognizing the exceptional contributions of such local residents is the point of two significant awards given this weekend at the Crescent City-Del Norte Chamber of Commerce annual membership dinner. Indeed, the winners of those awards are models of community involvement.

Rick and Diana Tomasini received the Del Norte Pride Award for 2006. The honor is given to a local resident who worked to make the community a better place to live. The Tomasinis, owners of The Witches Hut and The Enchanted Florist, were among nine nominees for the pride award. Their refurbishing of a vacant downtown store, hanging of ribbons during the Homecoming parade and decorative holiday lighting of their city block garnered them the award.

Dan Brattain, owner of Cal-Ore Life Flight Ground andamp; Air Ambulance Service, was awarded the chamber's Business Leader of the Year. County Board Chairman David Finigan cited extensive support of local schools and public safety, as well the development of a mass casualty program, as examples of Brattain's many contributions to the community.

There are many ways to give back to your community - volunteering, donating dollars to good causes, mentoring youth, participating in local civic groups. Without the contributions of many local residents who do just just that and more, our community would not be the place it is. Local government, with limited funding and state mandates to fulfill, can't. And while businesses give money and provide efforts to help, often an individual or two on their own time organize the project.

Without those who care about their community, no murals would have been painted in Crescent City last summer. Battery Point Lighthouse would not have a flashing light. There would have been no blood in area hospitals. The homeless and impoverished would have gone without a Thanksgiving meal or Christmas gifts.

Think of how much better our community could be with more personal contributions. The Tomasini's and Brattain last year showed us how much stronger it can be.