Tyler Perry pays for groceries during 'senior hour,' mourns crew member's coronavirus death

Andrew J. Yawn, Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Tyler Perry is making a statement after revealing one of his crew members died from coronavirus.

In an Instagram post Wednesday, Perry shared a series of photos of Charles Gregory, a hairstylist who worked with the comedian.

"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," Perry wrote. "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."

Perry urged black people to take the virus seriously, as it is killing them at higher rates compared with other Americans in some major cities.

"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," he wrote. "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!"

The "A Fall from Grace" director encouraged people to socially distance and do everything they could to stay safe.

"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," Perry wrote.

Perry's PSA comes shortly after he paid for people's groceries during senior shopping hours.

Lori Freehling fully expected to pay for her groceries Wednesday morning. 

So when she found out at the register that her total was being covered by renowned actor and director Perry, a New Orleans native, Freehling couldn't help but shed a tear or two. 

"She said, 'He just paid for your groceries as his random act of kindness,' " Freehling wrote in a Facebook post. " 'Really?' I said as my eyes teared up, thanking her as she handed my my receipt. Thank you Tyler Perry!"

Call it a hometown discount. 

Perry paid it forward at 29 Winn-Dixie stores across Louisiana and at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta, where Perry resides, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Ellen Degeneres: Host takes down video after 'jail' joke about coronavirus self-quarantine lands poorly

Tyler Perry paid it forward for shopping seniors at 29 Winn-Dixie stores across Louisiana and at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta.

The act of charity was held during the stores' senior hours, when older citizens who are more susceptible to COVID-19 are able to shop by themselves. 

Floored by the generosity, Freehling took the money she would have spent and followed Perry's example. 

"To pay it forward, I made a donation in your honor to Second Harvest Food Bank for what would have been the cost of my groceries today," Freehling wrote. 

Tracy Morgan: Comedian defends Trump amid coronavirus: 'Now is not the time for blame'

Perry, the mind behind the popular "Madea" movies, is no stranger to generosity. Perry paid of nearly $500,000 in layaway balances at Atlanta-area Walmarts in 2018. 

And he's also not the only New Orleans native to give back during the pandemic. Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning donated an undisclosed amount to United Way of Southeast Louisiana's Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund, according to WGNO. 

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Coronavirus: Tyler Perry pays for groceries during 'senior hours'