Third-grader aiding Legion

TRIMONT – For the last two years, third-grader Sydney Borntrager has been handing out poppies, making cards for veterans at nursing homes and learning more about the American Legion Auxiliary.

Sydney is a part of the Junior Auxiliaries, open to girls younger than 18 with family members who have served during wartime. But she finds herself alone in the organization.

“We would really like to interest other young girls in becoming Junior Auxiliary members,” said Bev Borntrager, Sydney’s grandmother, who is an Auxiliary member. “We are trying to find other Junior Auxiliaries in the area.”

Juniors are under the guidance of an adviser.

“The purpose of the junior activities committee is to interest eligible young women into continuing their membership as a senior member through the positive experience of mission-based volunteering that instills the ideals of the organization,” Bev Borntrager explained.

Similar to organizations such as Girl Scouts and 4-H, the Junior Auxiliaries earn patches through different activities, and they keep records of all the projects they complete.

Sydney’s favorite: the poppies.

“We got to go to the school and hand them out to the veterans,” she recalled of the Veterans Day program at which she collected donations for the red crepe paper flowers.

She also was able to distribute the flowers at one of the cemeteries.

For Memorial Day, Sydney raised money through a quilt raffle, with all funds going toward a scholarship for the National Children of Warriors.

Other projects include numerous chances to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, creating a “wish list” off the Auxiliary’s website and playing bingo at the nursing home.

“We’ve been learning as we go,” said Heather Borntrager, Sydney’s mother. “I remember going to Girls State, but neither of my grandparents were in the military. I didn’t know much about the Auxiliary until Sydney showed interest.”

When questioned, Sydney seems shy about her experiences, but the rows of patches she has earned show where her commitment lies.

“She may be quiet, but she loves to help,” Bev Borntrager said.

Currently, Sydney is getting ready to complete the first stage of the Junior Auxiliary, and will start the next series in fourth grade.

“The patches she has left is community service, which involves talking to police and firefighters,” Bev listed.

“She also needs her leadership patch, [for] which she needs to attend a senior Auxiliary meeting. That’s kind of difficult, because they meet while she’s in school. But the Auxiliary really enjoys having her. They kind of spoil her.”

“I get there in time for snack,” Sydney said of her visits.

“We really are learning ourselves,” Bev said. “We haven’t heard of any other Junior Auxiliary organizations in our area. If there are, we’d love to be in touch with them. It’d be a lot more fun that way.”

More information on the Junior Auxiliary may be obtained by contacting Borntrager at (507) 639-2721.