"Tyler was heartbroken seeing people all over the country stand in line for food so he decided he wanted to give back," a source tells PEOPLE

By Georgia Slater and Elizabeth Leonard
November 22, 2020 04:00 PM
Tyler Perry TPSgiving

Tyler Perry is kicking off Thanksgiving week with a major act of kindness.

On Sunday, the star opened up his Atlanta movie studio, Tyler Perry Studios, for four hours to feed 5,000 families with a combination of food boxes and gift cards for local supermarket chain Kroger.

Perry, 51, personally funded the event, called TPS Giving, and studio employees donated their time to volunteer and hand out all of the goods.

"Tyler was heartbroken seeing people all over the country stand in line for food so he decided he wanted to give back to his community in Atlanta," a source close to Perry tells PEOPLE. "Hopefully this encourages others who are able to, to give back during the holiday season in a year that has been difficult for many.”

Cars lined up over 12 hours before the official start of the event. To maintain proper COVID-19 safety protocols, the event was drive-thru only, and all employees working the event were tested ahead of time.

Tyler Perry TPSgiving
Tyler Perry TPSgiving

The Madea franchise creator has become one of the most charitable celebrities, and this isn't the first time he has helped his own community in Atlanta as well as people whose stories draw his attention.

In July, Perry gifted 1,000 Kroger gift cards to those living in Atlanta with help from police officers at the Atlanta Police Department who went door to door in neighborhoods to hand them out.

And in August, Perry donated a van to an Atlanta’s women’s organization that provides hygiene products to people experiencing homelessness.

Since launching The Perry Foundation in 2006 and opening his first eponymous studio in Atlanta in 2008, Perry has worked tirelessly to give back and create equal opportunities for BIPOC, both on and offscreen.

Through his foundation, he has aided people and charities who help others overcome the obstacles that he, too, once faced and has been intimately involved in the support of civil rights causes.

This year, he also paid for private plane travel for George Floyd's family to attend his funerals and covered funeral expenses for Rayshard Brooks and Secoria Turner.