TWO stories on The Northern Echo website show why the North-East is such a special place to live.

When bad things happen, our communities instinctively react with warmth, kindness and generosity.

One article tells how thieves broke into Trimdon Community College to steal money from a social club area.

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The burglars are thought to have used local knowledge to locate £300 which had been put aside for a Christmas party for underprivileged children.

As the centre’s development manager, Annette Donohue quite rightly said, those responsible are harming their own community.

But the reaction of the villagers to this shockingly mean act should leave the thieves ashamed of themselves – if they have consciences at all.

People have turned up with their piggy banks to offer their spare change, and one anonymous donor put £80 in a collection box.

Elsewhere in County Durham, when a house in Sacriston, near Chester-le-Street was gutted by fire on Tuesday, destroying everything inside, friends immediately started a series of fundraising campaigns to help the family involved get back on their feet.

People have even offered to replace the birthday presents of Ruby Anderson, who turned 15 on Monday, after all her gifts were destroyed.

Her mum, Donna said: “The support has been overwhelming, from people we don’t know. I cannot believe how kind everyone has been. It has been amazing.”

Friends, residents and complete strangers have rallied round to try and make something good come out of both situations. The region should be very, very proud of its communities.