PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – Dolly Parton’s The Dollywood Foundation announced Wednesday it would be giving $1,000 per month for six months to families who lost everything in the wildfires.
“It’s a very big dream at this scale, but I think you know Dolly is the chief of big dreams,” said Dollywood Foundation’s David Dotson.
Parton issued a statement on the foundation’s website saying she was starting the “My People Fund” to help provide a hand up to families affected by the fires.
As you may know by now, there have been terrible wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home.
I have always believed that charity begins at home. That’s why I’ve asked my Dollywood Companies – Including the Dollywood Theme Park, and DreamMore Resort; My dinner theater attractions including Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure; and my Dollywood Foundation to help me establish the “My People Fund.”
We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires. To aid in their recovery effort, the Dollywood Foundation will provide $1,000 a month to all of those families who lost their homes in the fires for six months so that they can get back on their feet.
“That’s an unbelievable gesture on Dolly’s part, but it’s not surprising,” said Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters. “Dolly Parton has been an advocate for Sevier County her entire life.”
The site also provided a donation link and said more information will be forthcoming on Friday. People from all over the country have donated to the fund. As of Friday, the fund has already raised more than $1 million.
The Academy of Country Music announced that Taylor Swift will be matching the organization and ACM Lifting Live’s donation of $100,000 to the fund. The total comes out to be $200,000.
“The Academy and ACM Lifting Lives are honored to contribute in a meaningful way to Dolly’s heroic efforts to help the people of her hometown – and when Taylor heard what we were planning, she offered to match our gift, which gives it that much more impact,” said Tiffany Moon, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Academy. “We are so grateful to Taylor for her support to the Academy’s charitable efforts through the years, and for helping us and Dolly Parton assist families in need at a time of crisis.”
East Tennessee native and country music singer Kenny Chesney posted a call to donate on social media. “East Tennessee is my heart and my soul,” said Chesney. The singer is helping the Country Music Association donate $500,000 for relief efforts, a portion will go toward the fund, according to WKRN.
“There was never a question if something should be done, but what should be done,” said Dotson. “The world is responding in a big way.”
Any family, whether they own or rent, whose primary residence was destroyed or is uninhabitable due to the wildfires is eligible for assistance. A pre-application is available at http://www.dollywoodfoundation.org. Completion is not required, but is encouraged to expedite the distribution process.
The first funds will be distributed from December 15-16 and December 19-20 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the CARE MORE Assistance Center at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. One check per household per month will be issued. All recipients must show a photo ID and families can receive aid for up to six months. Anyone needing help with the application process should call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.