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378 Customers Pay It Forward to Strangers at Florida Starbucks

One act of kindness started an 11-hour chain of people buying coffee for strangers at a Florida Starbucks.
Image: Starbucks to help workers obtain undergraduate degrees
epa04261525 A view of a Starbucks sign in New York, New York, USA, 16 June 2014. The company announced that it is beginning a partnership with Arizona State University to make undergraduate degrees available at a discount to 135,000 U.S. employees who work in the stores at least 20 hours a week. EPA/JUSTIN LANEJUSTIN LANE / EPA

One woman's simple act of kindness started an all-day chain of caffeinated good deeds at a Florida Starbucks on Wednesday.

At 7 a.m., a woman pulled into the drive-through at a St. Petersburg, Florida, Starbucks to buy an iced coffee and asked to also pay for the drink of the person in the car behind her. The recipient of the free drink decided to return the gesture by purchasing the drink ordered by the following car. One after another, the drivers learned of the deed done before them and paid it forward.

Starbucks employees began a tally to track how how long the chain of kindness would last. Eleven hours later, it was at 378. The Tampa Bay Times reported the chain finally ended at 6 p.m. when a woman pulled up and declined to participate after the barista told her the coffee she'd ordered was already paid for and asked if she'd like to continue the chain. Even though it had already been covered, the woman chose to pay for her own $2.25 drink and drove away. The barista told the paper he didn't think the woman understood the concept.

After hearing what went on Wednesday, customers began to pay it forward again Thursday until a local blogger drove in to purposely end the chain saying people were mistaking generosity for guilt, the paper reported.



- Jillian Sederholm