The Payson High School Student Council will hold an all-you-can-eat benefit spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m. Monday, March 29 at Payson Elementary School to raise money for the council's new Student Hardship Fund.
The council established the fund to help students burdened by financial, medical and family difficulties.
The council's first goal is to raise $1,500 to offset medical costs for Hunter Walden, the Longhorn basketball player and student council president who tore a ligament in his knee during a basketball game in January.
The Lutheran brotherhood has agreed to match $1,000 and the Aid Association for Lutherans has agreed to match $500 if the council can raise $1,500 at the benefit dinner.
The council will use the first $1,500 it raises to repay a loan Walden's family received from the Mogollon Sporting Association for medical expenses.
All other profits will be used to help other students, Student Council Junior Class Representative Reyna Hart said. Students asking for help will remain anonymous and the council will distribute aid on a case-by-case basis.
"The council will decide the best way to help in each case, whether it's a gift certificate to Safeway or money for medical expenses," she said. "We'll try to help any cases that are presented to us. We all know students who have had problems, so it touches us all."
This year alone, she said, students have had to cope with cancer, the loss of both parents and family financial problems.
"Hunter wasn't insured, and as a council, we've decided to try to get every student insured next year," she said. "We'll probably set up a booth at registration to help parents sign their kids up."
Tickets for the benefit spaghetti dinner will be available at the door for a cost of $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12 and $15 for families.