updated 07/21/2009 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/21/2009 AT 8:10 AM ET
Tyler Perry is playing Santa to 65 Pennsylvania children from a largely minority day-care center whose outing was axed when they were turned away by a predominantly white swim club.
Instead of wading in the waters of the so-called exclusive Valley Swim Club in suburban Philly – whose members feared an influx of the black and Hispanic children, the adults were quoted as saying – these kids are going to Disney World, with Perry paying for the works: airfare, food, hotel and admissions for the three-day visit.
“He wanted to do something nice for them and let them know that for every negative experience, there are people out there who want them to succeed regardless of the color of their skin,” Keleigh Thomas, publicist for the producer and Madea Goes to Jail star, tells CNN.
“I am ecstatic for the children,” said Alethea Wright, the Creative Steps day-care center director, adding that the Perry offer came through on Friday.
As Perry said on his Web site about the actions of the Valley Swim Club, “This made me so angry. This is awful, and for anyone that has grown up in the inner-city, you know that one small act of kindness can change your life.”
He added about the children, “I want them to know that for every act of evil that a few people will throw at you, there are millions more who will do something kind for them. This is all about the kids.”