Kansas City-area woman uses Chiefs signs to help pay off student lunch debt

Stowe's sign in front of Washington Elementary
Posted at 6:09 AM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-24 10:46:36-05

OLATHE, Kan. — When the Chiefs won the AFC Championship and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, LeAnne Stowe, owner of Annie's Barn, was awaiting T-shirts for her store. But instead, she decided to make signs to sell.

They turned out to be a hit.

"I was just taken aback by how popular they were," Stowe said. "We created this sign. This is my 1972 Chevy. It’s gold."

It's also adorned with the phrase, "Get in Winners, We're Going Winning," a pop culture take on the team's winning spree.

Stowe was inspired by Kansas Rep. Allison Hougland, who had just paid off all the lunch debts in the elementary schools in her district, so she thought why not do the same?

First was Pawnee Elementary where her wife went to school.

"We did Pawnee, full $2,019," Stowe said. "I took a check last week to Mission Valley Elementary in Eskridge, Kansas, and that was in the $350 range."

Stowe reached out to Mission Valley because she grew up in a rural town, Auburn, Kansas, and wanted to give back to a smaller community.

"Something I’m very familiar with," Stowe said. "A paycheck-to-paycheck thing when I was growing up and from a small town."

Thursday, she dropped off her third and fourth checks to Washington Elementary and Central Elementary Schools in Olathe.

"[It's] going to make a huge difference, like I said, for families," said Washington Elementary principal Aaron Miller. "The families will feel the impact of having some of those fees paid off — lets them hopefully have money to do some of the other things that they need to do to support their family."

It's $2.80 per student for lunch every day at Washington, and for families sending three or four kids, that money adds up.

"Our kids coming to school, this is their lunch and breakfast they know they’re going to get every day, so that is huge," Miller said.

Stowe says she'll keep doling out checks as long as people continue to buy the signs.

"Chiefs, sports can bring people together, so this is just a great example," Miller said.