I love the hustle and bustle of a new school year.

I always loved the excitement of purchasing school supplies and the focus my kids put on picking out that perfect folder, backpack and lunch box.

I loved shopping for back-to-school shoes and meeting their teachers and the excitement that came with finding out which friends would be in their class.

When our boys reached high school and started football practices, The Husband and I would sit outside for hours watching them practice. I still have their cans - No. 51 for D.J. and No. 3 for Aaron.

Indeed there is nothing like the start of a new school year.

And while many of you are getting ready to send your babes down the road to teachers and faculty you are familiar with, thousands of other parents are preparing to send their kids away to a community they may not know as well.

Stephenville will soon be swarming with nervous and excited college students attending Tarleton State University.   

For many of those students, it will be their first time away from home, and Stephenville will be full of unfamiliar faces. 

It can be a scary time for those young adults, but we can do our part to make them feel welcome. 

I remember when our daughter left for Texas Tech University two years ago and found herself in the middle of a Walmart in Lubbock trying to purchase a household item she knew nothing about.

A nice lady approached and asked if she needed help. She did.

Brooke relayed that conversation to me later that afternoon and I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude that a stranger stepped in to help my daughter and make her feel welcome in her new community.

Let’s do the same. 

If you happen to see a college student shopping for groceries at HEB or Walmart or bump into them at lunch at Panda Express or Taco Casa, take a moment to ask what they are studying, where they’re from and how they are doing. 

Let them know that Stephenville is a friendly community who loves its college students. 

I promise there is a mama out there who will quietly thank you.

Here’s to hoping this school year is a memorable one for each of you.

Sara Vanden Berge is the managing editor of the Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter. She can be reached at svandenberge@empiretribune.com.