Dear Editor,

Here comes Super Bowl Sunday, and for many here on the Central Coast, that means it’s time for the Martin Luther King Jr. Chicken Barbecue. Usually…

But nothing is “usual” this year.

A local tradition for many years, the annual barbecue raises money for The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. High School Memorial Scholarship Fund. Since 1968, the organization has been awarding scholarships to college-bound teens graduating from local high schools. But because of health and safety precautions brought about by COVID-19, the annual chicken barbecue won’t be happening this year.

Yet, your support of the scholarship fund has never been more important.

Amid the pandemic, special challenges face students who are graduating from high school and setting their sights on college. Freshman college enrollment is down 15 percent nationwide, primarily because of financial hardships brought about by COVID-19, according to figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Among minority students, the numbers are even higher. This fall, freshman enrollment at community colleges was down 30 percent among Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.

So now, more than ever, our scholarship recipients need your help. We’re asking you to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday this year by barbecuing your own chicken or whipping up another favorite dish to enjoy while watching the game.

But before you do, please go to our website (mlkfund.org) and click on “Donate” to make your annual, tax-deductible contribution to the MLK High School Memorial Scholarship Fund. Or send your check to P.O. Box 1693, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.

Stay home, stay well, stay safe. Enjoy the game. And just think how good that MLK Barbecue chicken is going to taste next year.

Good things are worth waiting for. But while you’re waiting, local college-bound students are still depending on you. Please donate now.

Mary Matakovich, Board President

Getting through this together, Paso Robles