Dolly Parton Establishes Fund to Aid Great Smoky Mountain Wildfire Victims
Late Wednesday night (Nov. 30), just a few days after wildfires tore through Sevier County, Tenn., Dolly Parton revealed her plans to help the area in which she grew up, and the area in which her Dollywood theme park is located. In a video message, the country icon announced the creation of the My People Fund.
The My People Fund, established by Parton's Dollywood Company and Dollywood Foundation, will provide $1,000 a month for six months to each of the families who lost their home due to the wildfires.
"The Red Cross has done a wonderful job with their emergency response efforts ... The support, as always, has been overwhelming," Parton says in her video message, which readers can watch above. "[But], I’ve always believed that charity begins at home ... We want to provide a hand up to all of 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."
A press release states that more information about the My People Fund will be released on Friday (Dec. 2). In the meantime, donations to the cause are being accepted at DollywoodFoundation.org.
On Monday night (Nov. 28), residents of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. -- resort towns in East Tennessee's Sevier County -- were evacuated after wildfires spread into those areas. A Wednesday night update from the Tennessee Emergency Management Association reports that the wildfires are all out, but some are still smoldering. The total impact of the wildfires is still being assessed, though there are seven confirmed deaths and up to 45 confirmed injuries. Nearly 8,500 remain without power in Sevier County, and nearly 200 people are staying at two Red Cross-run shelters.
During the evacuations, guests of Dollywood's cabins and DreamMore Resort were relocated. Dollywood staff report that a dozen of their Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed in the wildfires, though the theme park itself was unharmed. Dollywood will re-open on Friday at 2PM; its staff members are spending their time until then assisting in relief efforts.
“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains, and I am heartbroken. I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe,” Parton said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov. 29). “It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.”
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