(TMU) — Media mogul Tyler Perry may divide opinions when it comes to his Madea comedy film series, but public opinion about the filmmaker has been unanimous after he surprised thousands of senior citizen shoppers by unanimously picking up their grocery tabs.
Perry, who began his career as a theatrical performer in Atlanta, Georgia, decided to pay it forward Wednesday when he paid for the food and other essentials of countless senior and high-risk shoppers at 44 Kroger locations and 29 Winn-Dixie stores in the region.
According to social media users, the Louisiana native picked up the tabs of shoppers at stores in Baton Rouge, Gramercy, Luling, and a number of other locations.
While the identity of the “Atlanta Angel” was initially kept anonymous, the Kroger supermarket chain’s management soon confirmed that Tyler Perry was the donor, NBC reports.
Felix Turner, manager of corporate affairs for Kroger’s Atlanta Division, said:
“We would like to join our customers in thanking Mr. Perry for his kindness and generosity during this unprecedented pandemic.
It was truly a pleasure to see our customers fill with joy and gratitude as the news spread throughout 44 stores across metro Atlanta.”
To illustrate how overjoyed customers were by the selfless gesture, Kroger also shared a tweet that included a touching photo of a tearful elderly shopper holding a long receipt.
👏 @tylerperry paid it forward and purchased groceries for nearly 3,000 senior shoppers today at Kroger stores across Atlanta. You can see how much this means by the look on their faces. Thank you, Tyler, for your generosity! 💙 pic.twitter.com/L57nfNqm3g
— Kroger (@kroger) April 8, 2020
Speaking to CBS This Morning on Friday, Perry explained:
“What I’m hoping is that by this, paying for the groceries for these people who are just like me, like my mother, my aunt, come from where I come from… I’m hoping that other people will join in.
You know, you may not be able to pay for 73 grocery stores, but maybe you can buy groceries for one person. Maybe you can buy groceries for a neighbor.
Because we are going to be hit much harder as African Americans and as poorer people than any other minority in the country, I’m sure. So my hope is that someone will see it and say, ‘Okay, hey, I can do something to help somebody else.'”
Continuing, he said:
“I’ve had a few of those. But I wanted… to do something immediate that got to the people immediately. So I reached out to Kroger, reached out to Winn-Dixie, ’cause I remember my mother going to shop every Saturday at Winn-Dixie when I was a kid in all Louisiana and in Georgia…
And I wanted to go directly to neighborhoods where the incomes are much lower, and I wanted to really focus and drive the point home there and try and help there.”
Perry also made clear his concerns for the Black community amid the disproportionate mortality rates they are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said:
“What we need right now … We need just some hope. We are inundated with negativity. It’s bad. So many are dying…. our healthcare workers are struggling. They don’t have PPE… all of these things which are true, but they’re also so draining on the soul and spirit… So let’s all kinda spread a little bit of good news to help and encourage and motivate us all through this thing.
Because what this has taught us? We’re all one… and we cannot get through this unless we realize, no matter what our race, we’re all one.”
Tyler Perry has long been known as a self-made millionaire with a heart of gold who went from being a homeless, traumatized, and broken young sexual assault survivor to becoming one of the wealthiest Black men in Hollywood, using the proceeds from his popular low-budget films to fuel his generous philanthropic efforts.
Without so much as being asked for help, Perry has stepped up on numerous occasions to help those in need.
In 2009, Perry gave the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) a million dollar gift to celebrate the civil rights nonprofit’s centennial.
A year later, following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Perry also donated $1 million to help the first Black republic recover. His charity also inspired others to donate significant amounts to the impoverished Caribbean nation.
And in 2017, he contributed $1 million to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston, Texas.
According to his website, Perry has provided clean water to upwards of 65,000 people in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, and India through his charity.
Last March, when 45-year-old healthcare worker and author Tynesha Evans was killed, Perry saved her bereaved family from being evicted by paying their rent while also helping them pay the costs of Evans’ funeral. Perry also pledged to cover the college tuition of Evans’ daughter Sharadiant Turner, a mathematics major.
In October, Perry pledged to use a portion of his newly-built Tyler Perry Studios to house disadvantaged women and children. He also vowed at the time to build a shelter for homeless women, displaced LGBTQ youth, and trafficking victims.
Through his charity, the Perry Foundation, Tyler Perry has funded myriad projects ranging from educational program for at-risk youth to sports clubs, arts workshops, aid for refugees, and sustainable energy projects for underdeveloped rural communities in the global South.
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