Country music icon Dolly Parton personally delivered the final distribution checks of the "My People Fund" donations this week -- and with a bonus. Fundraising efforts helped the organization issue checks of $5,000 for families recovering from the Smoky Mountain wildfires that hit last November.
“The My People Fund has been a great success,” said Parton. “I want to thank my team, the Dollywood Foundation, my friends in the music business and the thousands of people from all over the country who opened both their pocketbooks and their hearts to help us. Over the last five months, we’ve given nearly 900 families $5,000 to help them recover. Yesterday, we had our last distribution and I went over to The LeConte Center to say thanks to all the volunteers and to help give out a few checks myself. We matched what they’ve received already with another $5,000 check. I know $10,000 can’t solve everything, but I do hope the money will help them to dream again.”
The remaining funds from the "My People Fund" are being used to start a new organization to help support displaced families called the "Mountain Tough." The program kicks off June 1 and will serve the continuing needs of residents during the critical rebuilding period ahead.
“We’re still receiving money, so we aren’t finished yet,” Parton added. “Recovery will take some time, so a new organization—called Mountain Tough—has been created to help our people get back on their feet for the next three years. We’re giving at least $3 million to help this new organization begin the next chapter of our journey.”
Mountain Tough will assists individuals and families recovering from the wildfires by providing resources for the unmet needs of low-income families and individuals in Gatlinburg and the surrounding Sevier County area. To get more information about the program and to donate, visit www.mountaintough.org.
You can also watch an interview with RFD-TV and RURAL RADIO's Christina Loren, who was able to chat with Dolly back in December during her telethon.
The My People Fund was established by Dolly, The Dollywood Company, Parton's dinner theaters, The Dollywood Foundation, and individual contributions. Donations were also raised during the December "Smoky Mountain Rise" telethon hosted by Dolly Parton which included Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Stapleton, Michael W. Smith, Chris Janson, Big & Rich, LOCASH, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Amy Grant, Alabama, Aaron Lewis, Rhonda Vincent, and Keith Urban, among others.
The horrific wildfires destroyed over 17,000 acres, displaced over 1,300 families and killed 14 people.