On Wednesday, November 30th, Dolly Parton announced the My People Fund, an effort to aid those who have lost property and loved ones in the wildfires that have devastated portions of eastern Tennessee – particularly the Great Smoky Mountains in Sevier County – over the past week.
“The Red Cross has done a wonderful job with their emergency response efforts in helping the people of Sevier County after these wildfires,” Parton says in the video above. “The support, as always, has been overwhelming.”
Parton goes on to detail her own plans to “provide a hand-up to all of those families that have lost everything in the fires.” According to DollywoodFoundation.org, “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.”
Parton grew up in the Smoky Mountains, as chronicled in songs like “Smoky Mountain Memories” and, more recently, in her made-for-television films for NBC, the second of which – Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love – premiered last night. The film combines two holiday stories from Parton’s childhood: her family’s efforts to buy her mother a wedding ring as Christmas gift, as well as a particularly dangerous Christmas where the entire family almost died during a blizzard. Parton herself makes a cameo in the film, portraying the town’s “Painted Lady” after which she modeled her iconic look.
Parton also owns a number of properties in Sevier County, including the Dollywood Theme Park, DreamMore Resort, Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure.
Currently, the Associated Press reports that seven people have died, an estimated 300 buildings have been destroyed, and over 14,000 area residents have been displaced from their homes due to the fires. Rescue efforts are still underway.
According to the fund’s Web site, more information about the fund will be announced on December 2nd.