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TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - The rally of java generosity began on Wednesday morning at a Starbucks in Florida, when one patron offered to buy an iced triple grande latte for the next customer in the drive-through line.
Then the next wanted to pay it forward. And the next.
The apparently spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, a store manager said, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended around 6 p.m., with nearly everyone paying for someone's drinks, just not their own.
"It was just somebody wanting to do a nice thing," said Celeste Guzman, a shift supervisor at the Starbucks, located near a busy shopping mall in St. Petersburg, Florida.
She wasn't sure how the chain had ended, but said baristas understood that some people didn't want to or couldn't afford to participate.
Inspired by local media reports, customers were rallying again at the store on Thursday morning. Someone bought a $40 gift card to share with the drive-through line.
By mid-morning, the chain had reached 100 customers, nearly as many as participated in a similar effort at the store several months ago, when 141 customers paid it forward.
"We've had a wealth of people trying to come in and be generous," Guzman said.
Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Jonathan Allen and Leslie Adler