OLATHE, Kan. – It started at the AFC championship game when the Kansas City Chiefs won and advanced to the Super Bowl. Annie’s Barn owner LeAnne Stowe was waiting for Chiefs shirts and decided to make signs to sell them instead. It turns out they were a hit!
“I was surprised at how popular they were,” Stowe said. “We made 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 rendition of the team’s winning spree.
Stowe was inspired by Kansas House Representative Alison Hougland, who had just paid off all her district’s elementary school lunch debts, so she figured why not do the same?
The first was Pawnee Elementary, where his wife went to school.
“We did Pawnee, full $2,019,” Stowe said. “I picked up a check last week at Mission Valley Elementary in Eskridge, Kansas and that was in the $350 range.”
Stowe contacted Mission Valley because she grew up in a rural town, Auburn, Kansas, and wanted to give back to a smaller community.
“Something I know very well,” Stowe said. “A paycheck to paycheck thing when I was growing up and from a small town.”
He delivered his third and fourth checks to Washington and Central Olathe Elementary Schools on Thursday.
“[It’s] It will make a huge difference, as I said, to families,” said Aaron Miller, principal of Washington Elementary. “The families will feel the impact of having some of those fees paid off. Hopefully allow them to have the money to do some of the other things they need to support their family.”
That’s $2.80 per student for lunch every day in Washington, and for families sending three or four kids, that money adds up.
“Our kids who come to school, that’s their lunch and breakfast that they know they’re going to get every day, so it’s huge,” Miller said.
Stowe said she will keep handing out checks as long as people keep buying the signs. She joked to Miller as they embraced, “Well, maybe we’ll see you again the way she’s doing!”
“You understand, sports can bring people together, so this is just one great example,” Miller said.