Donors motivated by a well-timed tweet have raised thousands of dollars to pay off school lunch debt in districts around the country.

It started when New York City writer Ashley C. Ford read that kids with unpaid lunch accounts are often embarrassed with a substitute meal of a cold cheese sandwich. She appealed to her 66,000 Twitter followers with a solution in early December: Ask if your school has kids with overdue lunch accounts, and pay off the debts.

The tweet resonated. In Minnesota, an online fundraising effort has paid almost $100,000 in lunch debt in Minneapolis schools and $28,000 in St. Paul's. Donors also stepped forward in Kansas, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Indiana and upstate New York.

Ford says she hopes the acts will inspire more community giving.