A group of about two dozen adults has organized to make a difference for all students in the Payson Unified School District.
The Friends and Neighbors (FAN) Club was organized as the school year came to a close last year, and spent the summer getting settled into its chosen role of supporting all extra-curricular activities in the school district.
"People don't realize the value of extra-curricular activities in the life of a child," said Kristi Ford, treasurer for The FAN Club. "They forget it's the extra-curricular activities that keep a child going in the classroom."
Initially The FAN Club is focusing its efforts on providing support for the district's sports program.
"Our participation with other activities will grow as the level of support from the community grows. When we have members who want to see more support for the music or drama programs, we will give support to those activities," Ford said.
The group wants to have business members, as well as individuals, she said. The basic membership fee for an individual is $35. There is also a special effort under way to attract Payson's retired population into the program.
"Even if a retired person doesn't have a child or grandchild in the district, they can be vitally important in the life of a child," Ford said.
The effort to draw a wide range of members into The FAN Club includes developing a variety of membership packages, such as different levels of business memberships and special ticket packages for members. There are packages that provide tickets to all the home sports events, some specifically designed for retired couples, etc., Ford said.
"As a club, we're not only interested in helping the coaches and directors financially, but we also want to get the public to come out and see the kids," she said. "It may not be your child, or the child of a friend, but you can come out and see a play or a band concert or a sports event and you can learn who the kids are and get to know them and watch them."
The FAN Club is for the entire school district, not just the high school. One of its first efforts of the new school year is to help the Rim Country Middle School football team, the Mavericks, raise money to buy new uniforms.
"They have only had the use of hand-me-downs from the high school, and they need their own new uniforms," Ford said.
Each student on the team must sell tickets for a "Hams, Hots and Brats" (hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwurst) Feast, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 9 at the middle school cafeteria, preceding the open house planned that evening. Tickets are $5 per individual and $20 per family (any size).
Team members must come up with $1,000 of the $6,000 needed for the uniforms, with The FAN Club providing the balance.
The team members were given their tickets to sell the first day of school during their lunch period.
Payson Herring, a seventh-grade player, was one of the young men on hand to get his tickets. He has been playing football for eight years.
"I'm really excited about the new uniforms," he said. "I think it will be amazing -- spectacular. It will help us look like a real team."
Ford said the district's new superintendent, Sue Myers, has said she wants to redefine the Payson Unified School District. "That will only happen if the whole community gets behind it," Ford said. "And I have great faith in this community's ability to do just that."
The FAN Club's officers are Farrell Hoosava, president, (928) 978-1567; Tim Doherty, vice president, (928) 978-3580; Mikie Halenar, membership chair and secretary, (928) 474-6635; and Kristi Ford, treasurer, (928) 595-2971.
"Anyone interested in being part of The FAN Club can call any of us for more information," Ford said. "And we have all kinds of merchandise available too -- T-shirts, sweat shirts, polo shirts, jackets. They all have ‘The FAN Club' emblem embroidered on them and they can be personalized, too."
The group's regular meetings are at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month at Payson Eye Care, 411 S. Beeline Highway. The next meeting is Aug. 10.