Hey celebrities—less “I’m bored!” quarantine videos, more donations please.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to absolutely devastate the United States economy, and 10 million people file for unemployment, it’s time for the rich to put their money where their mouth is. Thankfully, some have. Lady Gaga has helped organize a massive fundraising “One World” concert special, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is donating $1 billion of his personal wealth (!) into a relief fund to help small businesses, as well as girls’ health and education charities and Universal Basic Income.
These are massive efforts that are both hugely needed and appreciated. But others, like mogul Tyler Perry, are also helping on a more local scale. According to reporting by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, on Wednesday morning Perry paid for the groceries of all shoppers during Senior Hours at 44 Atlanta Krogers and 29 Winn-Dixies in New Orleans (his hometown). Seniors are often a forgotten demographic when it comes to charity work, but so many live on razor-thin margins. They’re also the most vulnerable and at-risk group when it comes to COVID-19.
And yet, for seniors like former AJC reporter Phil Kloer who still have full-time jobs, the gesture was one that he could pay forward. Since Perry covered his $290 grocery bill, he immediately donated $300 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Perry also donated a total of $21,000, or $500 a person, to 42 out-of-work servers at his favorite Houston’s restaurant off of Atlanta’s I-75 corridor. This all stands as a gold standard of how we can help those in need in our own communities, including (for those of us who still have jobs), giving generous tips when we get delivery or take-out food, or donating to local food banks (even paying for the groceries of someone you don’t know).
At a time when so many celebrities are being criticized for indulgent “I’m so tired of being in my mansion!” social media posts and tone-deaf singalongs, the actions of Perry, Gaga, and Dorsey are examples of how to actually help. And frankly, Dorsey’s $1 billion is just 28% of his wealth, as he disclosed. For Perry, even the hundred thousand dollars (or multiple hundreds) he may have paid to help seniors on Wednesday is surely not impacting his lifestyle in any way. But I also say this with gratitude that they are actually doing something tangible. It’s important, and we need it.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV