Home Debt Donna Kelce mug sales go wild, help Kansas City woman’s special cause

Donna Kelce mug sales go wild, help Kansas City woman’s special cause

by admin

Annie Stowe first created a mug in honor of football’s favorite mom, Donna Kelce, back in October. She has now raised thousands to pay off the student lunch debt of Kansas City students

A Kansas City woman’s simple idea has snowballed into a big windfall that is helping pay off student lunch debt in her area. 

Annie Stowe created a mug in honor of football’s favorite mom, Donna Kelce, back in October.

It had a simple saying: “It’s Mama Kelce’s world and we’re all just living in it.” Later she created another mug showing the mother of Travis and Jason Kelce in the form of an emoticon and the recipe to her famous chocolate chip cookies.

Stowe experienced modest sales up until last week, when a local news station caught wind of Mama Kelce’s Cookies Mug and wrote the story behind the unique product. The story then blew up across the country, with national outlets like People and The New York Post writing about the mug.

The frenzy came with hundreds of new customers, eager to snatch up the $19.99 mug for themselves. In just one week, Stowe was able to pull in $10,000, which she is using to pay off the lunch debt of students in her area, all with Mama Kelce’s own blessing (and an exciting email exchange).

“For a little company like mine to be able to give back $10,000 to student lunches here in Kansas City − that’s a big deal,” Stowe recently told USA TODAY.

Now, she has sold out of the cookie mugs. “It’s been a crazy ride,” she said.

The ‘super cool’ moment with football’s favorite mom

Not long after Stowe created the first mug, she got a surprising email on Oct. 4 from none other than Donna Kelce.

“‘I’m like, what? I thought somebody was spoofing her account,” she said. “This is not Donna Kelce reaching out to Annie in Overland Park, Kansas. And sure enough, (she) says, ‘I saw this mug that you sell on your website, and you are so funny.’” 

Kelce placed an order for 20 Mama Kelce mugs, telling Stowe she wanted them in time for Christmas. Stowe said the moment “was super cool.”

Stowe decided to shoot her shot, telling Kelce about an idea she had for over a year. She told Kelce that she wanted to put her cookie recipe on a mug, saying she was inspired by how the proud mother gave the treats to her sons at last year’s Super Bowl.

“I could give $5 from every mug sold to help pay off school lunches. And she just wrote back, ‘Yes, let’s do it,’” Stowe said. Stowe designed and released the mugs that same month, making $2,000 during the mug’s two-week run.

How Annie Stowe began tackling student lunch debt

Stowe first began paying off student lunch debt by selling yard signs celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs making the playoffs last year.

“What I was thinking at the time was, ‘What is a cause close to my heart?’” Stowe said, thinking of her hard-working mother who packed chips at Frito Lay to put food on the table. 

“And what month is hardest month for parents? January,” she said. “You come off of Christmas and you have credit card debt, at least that’s how I grew up. Groceries are higher than they have ever been before.”

She decided to call Pawnee Elementary school in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, to find out how to pay off lunch debt owed by parents. 

In 2022, lunch debt in the state soared to an all-time high of $23 million, six times the amount reported just a few years earlier, according to reporting by NPR affiliate KCUR. Districts usually cover shortfalls out of their general fund or through donations but about 40% of districts turn unpaid debt over to collection agencies or courts, the station reported.  

When Stowe found out how much debt there was at Pawnee, she realized she could only pay a quarter of it. So she decided to enlist a little help from family and friends, calling out for donations on Facebook and her website. 

“Between selling the rest of the signs and donations, we raised $4,000,” she said, adding that it was special to give the good news to a school official.

“She started talking about how meaningful this was going to be for the kids, and then I’m crying, my daughter’s crying,” Stowe recalled. “It was this big deal. It just meant so much to me.”

Stowe ended up paying the debt of four elementary schools that year, including Pawnee, and now it’s officially a favorite pastime.

Donna Kelce mugs could return to Annie Stowe’s store

Although demand remains high, Stowe said she had no immediate plans to bring the sold-out mug back to her shop, Annie’s Barn, which has been selling “snarky stuff” online since 2012.

But she’s still looking for other ways to get the product produced and sold through her business. 

She wants to find a solution that allows Annie’s Barn to continue to make donations to pay off school lunch debt, but “sitting here today I don’t have that solution.”

“It’s been a little bit overwhelming, and I don’t want it to get away from me,” she continued. “I have a great business model and I have seen a lot of companies get by something like this … But I think it’s a testament to how really amazing she (Donna Kelce) is. People love Donna Kelce.”

Stowe has reached out to Kelce to catch her up, telling her about the number of publications picking up the story and the $10,000 donation. She said that Kelce told her the recent development was “exciting.” 

Perhaps the most rewarding part, she said, has been getting emails from people saying they’ve been inspired by Stowe’s charitable efforts and want to do something similar with their small businesses.

“If we have got other people doing it, then we are done. Our job is done,” she said. “I’m very excited about that.”

You may also like

Leave a Comment