Families lined up up Thursday for the first round of distributions for those who have qualified for Dolly Parton's My People Fund.
Many of them stopped to say thanks to Dolly for establishing the fund, and to the many people who have stepped up to help.
The first funds will be distributed Dec. 15-16 and Dec. 19-20 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the CARE MORE Assistance Center at the LeConte Events Center in Pigeon Forge. The checks will be given out according to the first letter of the last name.
Thursday, Dec. 15: Last Name A-F
Friday, Dec. 16: Last Name: G-L
Monday, Dec. 19: Last Name: M-R
Tuesday, Dec. 20: Last Name S-Z
One check per household per month will be issued. All recipients must show a photo I.D. Families can receive aid for up to six months.
Anyone who needs help in the application process should call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.
"I've always believed charity begins at home and my home is someplace special. That's why I've asked my Dollywood Companies—including the Dollywood theme park, and DreamMore Resort; my dinner theater attractions including Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure; and my Dollywood Foundation—to help me establish the My People Fund," Parton said in a video on Wednesday.
The fund will provide $1,000 each month to Sevier County families who lost their homes "until they get back up on their feet," she said.
Any family who lost their primary residence (renters and homeowners) due to the wildfires in Sevier County will be eligible. A pre-application for those affected is available here. https://dollywoodfoundation.org/ Completion of the pre-application is not required but is encouraged to expedite the distribution process.
“We are proud to assist Dolly in the creation of the My People Fund,” said Craig Ross, President of The Dollywood Company. “We hope this serves as the first step to rebuilding for the families of the Sevier County community. We send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to everyone affected.”
Jim Rule, CEO of World Choice Investments, LLC said, “It is our hope that the My People Fund will make a difference to those families looking for a way to move forward during this difficult time. The Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure families are honored to help Dolly provide this special support.”
“We are working to gain a better idea of the number of families affected by the tragedy,” said David Dotson, President of the Dollywood Foundation. “The My People Fund has already secured more than $1 million and climbing. But we know that substantially more donations will be required to meet the need.”
Significant donations have already been made by Verizon, Tanger Outlets, Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation, CoreCivic and The Blalock Company. Cumulus Knoxville and The Vol Network will hold a radio-thon for the My People Fund on Monday, Dec. 5 from 6 a.m. – midnight.
Anyone can donate to the fund by visiting the website or by mail:
My People Fund
c/o Dollywood Foundation
111 Dollywood Lane
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
The Dollywood Foundation asks for help spreading the word about the effort by using the hashtags #MyPeopleFund and #someplacespecial.
"We want to provide a hand up to 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 get them back on their feet," Parton said.