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The American Legion for decades has helped underwrite the cost of sending young men to Boys State, a summer leadership and citizenship program. This year is no different.

Andrew Pearson Post 117, the third and newest post in the Billings area, anted up the money to send one young man to Boys State.

But no one stepped forward to provide help for the six young women who will attend Girls State on June 1-7 in Helena. The cost is $270 per delegate, and each is required to provide her own transportation to Helena. This is an American Legion Auxiliary program, and technically the Legion has nothing to do with Girls State.

With some auxiliary units in the community defunct, no one was fundraising for the girls.

Sue Davidson, secretary-treasurer of the Andrew Pearson Post 117’s Auxiliary Unit, said it's something that needed to be corrected. The unit started fundraising immediately and has raised enough money to give each of the six girls a minimum of $150 each.

Davidson said she believed it was important for girls to receive the same financial assistance that is available to boys.

“We need more women in all levels of politics and government,” Davidson said. “The learning experience they will receive is so valuable.”

American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is a nonpartisan program that teaches young women responsible citizenship and love for God and country.

Those attending this year’s session from Billings are Hannah Hansen, Maranda Ratcliff and Alicia Stovall from Billings West; Ellen Carlson and McKenzie Morgan from Billings Senior; and Jennifer Morse from Skyview.

The Auxiliary’s financial aid has eased the strain to attend.

“This helps a lot,” said Morgan, 17, who will be a senior this fall. “It’s going to be a great experience learning how government works in the community.”

Hansen, 17, who will also be a senior this fall, said she may study political science in college. Being able to attend Girls State is a great opportunity to test the waters, she said. “The money is a huge help,” she said. “We’re just there to learn.”

Alicia Stovall, 17, another fall senior, said she knew some girls who were not able to attend Girls State because of cost.

“I can’t do it on a part-time job,” Stovall said. “This is awesome.”

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