We loved those pictures in Friday's edition of kids on the first day of kindergarten.

Picture No. 1: A group of kindergarten kids, sitting on a carpet, all eyes, watching and listening to their first teacher read a story … getting the school year going. In the background, a bunch of parents looking on, some more anxious than their kids.

Picture No. 2: A couple kids running and cavorting around a play area in the background; in the foreground, a dad holding his daughter … she's looking a little apprehensively out toward the future, while he's looking at her with that everything-will-be-just-fine look.

Picture No. 3: A child with a big hat, out there surrounded by new people and new situations, leans in and whispers to his mom — just a little bit of personal time before the bigness of school envelopes them.

Picture No 4: Just a little hang-back time — a little guy, clean and shiny and hair slicked up, and wearing his best T-shirt and shorts and running shoes … holding onto mom's hand just a little while longer.

When you're all grown up and working daily and it's been a few decades since your own kids started out, you forget all about the enormity of the first day of school, and you don't think about the incredible change in dynamics in thousands of households, scheduling, workloads, responsibilities, traffic patterns. And it's amazing, once in a while, to get these views of those who are starting out the school year for the very first time.

Thanks to our journalist Chris Kaufman for the package.

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Thumbs Up: Kudos to the Sutter-Yuba Association of Realtors charitable foundation for sponsoring shopping trips for hundreds of local kids before the start of school. Students who need a little help in the budget department received $100 or more in credit to buy clothes and supplies.

The local group gathered thousands of dollars together to help — they started out half a dozen years ago helping 70 kids; this year they helped 261, according to Deneen Torres, a local real estate agent.

Several other area organizations and businesses also help out. Thanks to all.

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Thumbs Up: The Marysville Rotary Club is setting the pace for area service clubs with the donation of a beautiful van to Hands of Hope.

The Marysville Rotarians donate to many good causes, but this one is a biggie — the value is somewhere north of $30,000, we hear. If you're involved in any sort of service organization, you know the sort of effort it takes to raise cash and be able to make that sizable donation. This group runs the Sodbusters event each year the Friday night before the annual Stampede. The money they work hard for is routed back into the community.

Hands of Hope is one of our favorite area charities that does so much for homeless families, women and children.

Cheers.

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More Thumbs Up: Welcome to Col. Larry Broadwell. He assumed command of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base on July 8. He replaces Col. Douglas Lee (command shifts every two years).

Broadwell is now responsible for more than 7,000 airmen and civilians and the Air Force's fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawk and U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft, according to an article last week by Kirk Barron.

Broadwell started his Air Force career as a navigator on a C-130 in the mid-1990s, went to piloting F-15 and F-22 aircraft over the Middle East, and used intelligence gathered by the airmen at Beale to carry out missions "that clearly saved lives," he said.

Broadwell noted that the duties of a wing commander include establishing a positive culture on base and strengthening ties to the community.

A bunch of area boosters, members of the Beale Military Liaison Council, are welcoming Broadwell with a dinner 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1, at Peach Tree Golf and Country Club. The public is invited, but seating is limited. Additional details: $20 per person; $150 for tables of eight; dress/business casual attire. For more information, call 822-0228.

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