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This Woman's Tweet Is Helping Pay Off Thousands of Student Lunch Debts

A New York writer's idea to pay off overdue school lunch accounts has inspired country-wide donations totaling more than $130,000.

School lunch debt 135pixels/Shutterstock
Ashley C. Ford is a New York City writer who grew up as a recipient of free school lunches. So she knows only too well the importance of getting a nutritious meal in the cafeteria—something she credits for helping her focus in class without being hungry, and getting her where she is today.

"I was able to get the grades that got me into college because I was able to focus," she explained to Today. "From there, I've been able to build a life for myself where I'm gainfully employed and now I'm able to help other people."

There are kids all across the country with unpaid lunch accounts, who are often embarrassed by the cold cheese sandwich and a carton of milk they're given to eat as a substitute. Ford decided to step up on their behalf back in December, by sending out a tweet to her 66,000 followers with a very important message.

"A cool thing you can do today," she wrote. "Is try to find out which of your local schools have kids with overdue lunch accounts and pay them off."

It's been just two months since she posted the call to action, and Ford's tweet has already inspired hundreds of strangers from all over the country to donate money. Donors knocked out $6,000 in school lunch debts in Topeka, Kansas; $2,000 in Bellevue, Washington; $1,200 in Wilmington, Delaware; and $900 in Herminie, Pennsylvania. And in Minneapolis, an online fundraising effort racked up almost $130,000—pretty incredible!

And it all started with one selfless act and a single tweet.

"These are a bunch of people who decided to act after seeing an idea—that's the magic of this situation," Ford told Today. "It's not a coordinated effort across the country, but a lot of individual people who decided to do something good in their community, and that's beautiful."

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter.