The new John Will Anderson Boys & Girls Club at the former Tolleston Middle School is an example of what can happen when the region pulls together in support of a common goal.
In this case, it was turning an abandoned school building into a community center that provides a safe, healthy, nurturing environment for children.
The school was shuttered because of declining enrollment, the result of both population decline in the city and competition by charter schools. There are too many others sitting vacant in Gary and other communities.
The good news, though, is a former eyesore has been turned into an attractive and functional community center for children.
Former Times Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. spoke Friday of attending a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana and sitting with children who missed being able to play outside because there had been too many shootings. It broke Masterson's heart, but it stirred him -- and the region -- to action.
Volunteers from throughout the city -- throughout the region -- pitched in to help prepare the building for construction. Old textbooks, trophies, computers, flags, globes and other school supplies, along with leftover food, were cleared out.
Donations from generous donors throughout the region helped raise money for the project as well.
This is the kind of cooperation that can, and should, happen on other issues as well.
Instead of scolding individual communities for not solving their own problems, provide a helping hand. In this instance it was Gary, but it just as easily have been a challege facing Hammond, Crown Point, Kouts or anywhere else.
Pitch in, because strengthening one community strengthens the entire region. And donating time or money helps the donor, not just the recipient.