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Social Media for a Cause: Movement to Give Meals to Homeless

HashtagLunchbag, a movement that began with a few brown-bag lunches for the homeless on Skid Row, has spread to 100 cities and five continents.

A viral social movement aimed at feeding the hungry is taking its cue from an old-school technique: Packing a brown bag lunch, tucking a sweet note inside, and handing it out to the people who need it most.

"Anybody can go and make a lunch. Everybody's done it for years," said J.D. McElroy. "Their mom makes them a lunch before they go to school and writes a little note, 'Have a good day.' We do the same thing."

McElroy — along with Felicia Alston, William Smith, and Ajay Relan — got the idea for HashtagLunchbag on Christmas of 2012. A few friends packed a few lunches and handed them out to homeless people in southern California.

"We went out to distribute, took a picture, put it on social media. And then, all of a sudden, something happened — like a spark,” Alston said.

That spark ignited a social movement that’s now gone global: People have held HashtagLunchbag events in more than 100 cities on five continents.

"It's insane," Alston said. "I mean, every time we do one of these, we go on Instagram, and the numbers are skyrocketing."