DETROIT -

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is hoping the coffee shop chain's customer base can set a moral example for Congress as the government shutdown enters its second week.

Starting Wednesday, Starbucks will offer a free tall cup of java to anyone who buys a drink for another customer. According to a letter from the CEO, this initiative aims to "support and connect with one another, even as we wait for our elected officials to do the same for our country."

"In times like these, a small act of generosity and civility can make a big difference," says an ad being published in The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today. "Let's see what can happen. #payitforward."

The promotion runs until Friday.