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Families grateful for Dolly Parton's 'My People' fund

More than 700 families have already applied for help through Dolly Parton's "My People" fund, which will provide $1000 a month to families that lost their homes in the Sevier County fires.

For folks who have lost everything, that money will be a godsend. Not only do they have to find a new place to live, but buy all new furniture and clothes.

Carol Leilass is one of those people. She and her dog, Red, used to live in a home behind Ripley's Aquarium. The loyal pup alerted her when the fire was bearing down on their home.

"It was pitch black and raining and we had 87 mile per hour winds," she said.

Their home is gone. Since the fires, they've been staying at the Red Cross shelter at the Rocky Top Sports World.

"I'm here.That's all I can say. We made it out," she said.

Making it out was half the battle. Starting over is the other. But East Tenneseee's favorite daughter has offered to help.

"I told my son the Dolly Parton Foundation was giving us $1,000 and he goes, whoa, that is really fantastic," she said.

The Jarrett family will also look to Dolly's fund for help.

"Things are kinda hard right now," said Bobby Jarrett.

Their home, just down the hill from the Park Vista Hotel, was leveled in the fire.

"We walked away with a pair of pajamas so we'll have to start all over," she said.

She says the money not only will help them start over, but will enable them to stay in their hometown.

"It's a beautiful place. I don't want to leave it," she said.

Savannah, and her 20-month-old daughter Creedence, are in the same boat. Their home at The Travelers Motel is now a pile of ashes.

"Everything is gone. Everything burned. So, we've been staying here," said Savannah.

Their temporary home is the Red Cross Shelter at Rocky Top Sports World. Savannah is hopeful the $1,000 a month they'll receive from the Dollywood Foundation will help them find a permanent home.

"A home is the most important thing. But this will help us replace everything we lost plus more," said Savannah.

Where ever the next home may be, these families are thankful for each other, and for Dolly Parton.

"God bless Dolly. That's all i got to say," said Jarrett.

"I can't tell Dolly enough, thank you for everything you've done for us. This means the world," said Savannah.

You can get more information about the My People fund here.

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