Dolly Parton is a woman of her word.
The Knoxville News Sentinel confirmed last week that Parton’s fund has indeed issued $1,000 cheques to 921 homeless families, delivered once per month for six months. With the help of more than 80,000 donations from the public in December and January, the fund reached $1 million and beyond.
Doing the math, that means each family should receive $6,000, and overall the fund will disperse more than $5.5 million in total.
The wildfire struck Gatlinburg, Tenn., on Nov. 28, killing 14 people and damaging or destroying more than 2,400 structures. Within two days of the disaster, Parton decided how she wanted to help, said Dollywood Foundation president David Dotson. The foundation created a website with a donation option in six hours.
“The next morning [after the website went up], we woke up to $1 million,” he said. A subsequent telethon raised even more funds.
Parton said she was heartbroken when saw the horrific footage of the wildfires tearing through the county where she grew up, and pledged to set up a fund to help as many people as she could.
“I’ve always believed charity begins at home, and my home is someplace special,” Parton said while announcing the fund. “We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires. I know it has been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help get them back on their feet.”
Tennessee is home to Parton’s Dollywood theme park, which was “barely saved from the wildfires.” According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, flames were “right on the doorstep” of Dollywood. Fire crews, however, were able to fight the blaze back from the theme park.
The Dollywood Company also donates to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, encouraging children to learn to enjoy “the magic of reading.” Parton also supports The Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation, providing expanded health care services in the Sevier County of Tennessee and Alzheimer’s Tennessee.
— With files from The Associated Press and ET Canada