When wildfires tore through the East Tennessee towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in November, the evacuations and ensuing devastation greatly affected residents and visitors of the resort towns -- including staff and vacationers at Dollywood. Dolly Parton quickly began collecting donations for relief efforts through her My People Fund and the Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon, and on Thursday (May 4), Parton helped distribute the final funds raised.

The My People Fund has been distributing $1,000 per month to those families affected by the wildfires -- nearly 900 of them, per a press release -- but Parton was also able to offer each family an additional $5,000 because so much money was raised. The country icon is a native of the affected area.

“The My People Fund has been a great success. 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," Parton says. "I know $10,000 can’t solve everything, but I do hope the money will help them to dream again.”

The remaining money in the My People Fund -- at least $3 million -- will go to the Mountain Tough Recovery Team, which will continue to help Sevier County residents rebuild, beginning on June 1. The Mountain Tough Recovery Team will especially help low-income families and individuals.

“We’re still receiving money, so we aren’t finished yet,” Parton says. Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson adds, "Mountain Tough will help pick up where the My People Fund left off. They will be staffed with case managers who will work to identify the immediate needs of residents, and our funds will be used to address those needs ... The case managers will coordinate with county agencies to ensure needed assistance is not duplicated and achieves its maximum impact.”

Visit MountainTough.org to help out with the ongoing efforts in Sevier County.

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