PIGEON FORGE - There were tears and hugs when Dolly Parton personally surprised recipients of her "My People Fund" with an extra $4000 this week.
Dolly established the fund in the days after the Sevier County wildfires that claimed 14 lives and destroyed hundreds of homes. She pledged to give every family that lost their home $1000 a month for six months to help them get back on their feet.
The final disbursement happened this week, with recipients expecting their last $1000 check. Instead, Dolly showed up to hand them a check for $5000 instead.
"God bless you for doing this for us," one man said. His wife tearfully added to Dolly, "Nobody but you would do this for us."
A little girl brought some smiles and got an extra hug when she told Dolly how pretty she looked, then her father got a kiss when he told Dolly, "I've got five words for you: I will always love you."
Another woman could barely get out a thank you as Dolly embraced her. "My family thanks you very much," she finally uttered.
For Dolly, it was the right thing to do.
"I'm a Smoky Mountain girl and I've been blessed in my life to become a celebrity, and when you are in a position to help, you should," she said.
While Dolly was the driving force behind the fund, which earned more than $9 million dollars through donations and fundraisers, she is quick to defer the credit to those behind the scenes--- the people her manage her foundation, the volunteers who helped hand out the checks, and every person who donated.
"It makes me proud we were able to do something, but I don't put myself on any kind of pedestal for doing this," she said.
On Friday, Dolly announced that there was still $3 million dollars remaining in the "My People Fund," with donations still coming in. She said that money was going to the Mountain Tough fund, which will continue to help wildfire survivors.
"We're going to make sure it goes to the people we promised it to," she said.
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