Tyler Perry Pays for Groceries for Thousands of Southerners Amid COVID-19

The movie mogul picked up the tab for thousands of grocery shoppers in the South.

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Movie director and actor Tyler Perry surprised grocery shoppers Wednesday by picking up their tabs at some grocery store chains in the South. Perry reached out to a number of supermarket chains, including Winn-Dixie and Kroger, in Atlanta and New Orleans and picked up shoppers' tabs. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Perry paid for groceries at 29 Winn-Dixie stores across Louisiana, where he's from, and at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta, where he lives.

Senior citizens in particular are having to put themselves at risk by going to grocery stores and supermarkets, which, while essential, is generating concerns for public safety amid the coronavirus outbreak. Grocery stores across the nation have implemented "senior shopping only" hours so that the elderly can take advantage of shopping at stores when they are at their cleanest and least crowded.

But Perry's gesture really made the shopping experience even better, and many overwhelmed recipients of his act of kindness tweeted their appreciation:

It is not yet clear the number of individuals who benefited from the movie mogul's generosity, but Kroger revealed that upwards of 3,000 shoppers had their groceries paid for by Perry alone.

The New Orleans native, who is reportedly worth $700 million, has remained a vital member of both Southern culture and its economy, having just opened a massive film studio in Atlanta that will bring lucrative television and film productions to that area.

On Wednesday, Perry, who did not mention his donations, posted a message on Instagram that included a moving tribute to Charles Gregory, a hairstylist who worked with him on many films and who died due to COVID-19 complications.

View this post on Instagram

Dear Black People, Today it's with a heavy heart that I inform you of the passing of one of our crew members. Mr. Charles Gregory was a hairstylist that had worked with us for many years. The man was warm, loving and hilarious. We all loved to see him coming and hear his laughter. Charles lost his battle with COVID-19 today. It saddens me to think of him dying this way. My sincerest prayers are with his family. While everyone can contract this virus it is black people who are dying from it in much larger numbers. This thing is real, black people. I heard a black person say, "Black people don't get it." That is a lie! You can get it, and you will get it if we don't do what we're being told to do. A 26 year old black woman died the other day, a 44 year old black man died the other day, not to mention the hundreds of people that are dying every few minutes. Your age does not matter!! Your health does not matter. You could be totally healthy, and you could die! Now listen to me. You have been right by my side since I started in this business, so please hear me with your heart. I LOVE US. I love our humor. I love our culture. I love our hair. I love our skin. I love everything about who we are. All of us. And I love us all too much to watch us die on the vine because we are the last to know and we are not taking this pandemic seriously. Black people, we are at a disproportionately higher risk of dying from this virus. Please, please, please, I beg you to take this seriously. You have to socially distance yourself. That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others. STAY HOME!! Socially distance yourself and stay alive! If you won't do it for yourself, do it for someone you love, and for those who love you. My Mother always told me to not wait for help! Be your own help!

A post shared by Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) on

"Please, please, please, I beg you to take this seriously," Perry cautioned, noting the black community in particular has been affected by COVID-19. "You have to socially distance yourself. That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others. … If you won't do it for yourself, do it for someone you love, and for those who love you."

And for more behaviors to avoid amid COVID-19, check out 15 Seemingly Innocuous Habits That Increase Coronavirus Risk.

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