GATLINBURG (WATE) – Thursday, Dolly Parton surprised families in Sevier County with extra money from My People Fund donations. Families were given $5,000 for their last check, instead of the usual $1,000.
“I’m giving them an extra as like a bonus, $5,000 check that they weren’t expecting,” said Parton with a smile. “We’re excited that we still have some money coming in, so we know that we’re going to make sure that everything goes back to the people we promised it to.”
After the fires in Gatlinburg, more than $9 million was raised during a star-studded telethon. After the telethon, Parton said donations kept pouring in. She not only surprised families with checks but also her presence. Some were moved to tears, saying the money is helping them rebuild their homes and their lives.
“It makes me feel humble really. It makes me proud that I’ve been able to do something, but I don’t put myself on any kind of pedestal for doing this because that’s the right thing to do. I’m a Smokey Mountain girl and I’ve been blessed in my life to be a celebrity and when you are in a position to help, you should help.”
Parton said the remaining $3 million in the My People Fund will be donated to the Mountain Tough fund. She said over the next three years, the fund will be used to take care of special needs in Sevier County.
“Everybody has just pulled together to where things are back to normal,” said Parton.
The Sevier County girl said she is looking forward to her parade Friday night.
“I always love going down to just see all of the people and I bet this year they’ll be a lot of people with all of their little signs saying ‘Thanks for helping out’ and I just love that,” said Parton.