Dolly Parton isn't just the queen of country music; she's the queen of having a thankful and generous heart. Between her contributions to the COVID-19 vaccine, Dolly's Imagination Library and Dolly Parton's My People Fund, we can barely keep up with how much she gives back to her communities.
Here's a brief roundup of Dolly Parton's history of giving back.
The Buddy Program
In the early '90s, Parton launched the Buddy Program. Addressing a group of Tenessee junior high students, she announced that she'd give $500 to every seventh and eighth grader who finished high school. The program was a success, with the dropout rate declining from 35 percent to six percent.
Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
Dolly Parton and Dollywood partnered with the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) to build the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at the world famous Dollywood theme park. The Eagle Center has bred/released 166 bald eagles into the Smoky Mountains.
The Dolly Parton Scholarship
Parton is dedicated to helping other dreamers. As part of the Dollywood Foundation, she awards a $15,000 scholarship annually to seniors at high schools in Sevier County, Tennessee.
My People Fund
The 2016 fires that engulfed Sevier County in Tennessee were devastating to so many. The Dollywood Foundation joined the recovery effort and took the families that lost their homes under their wings. Nearly 900 wildfire victims who lost their homes due to the Smoky Mountain fires were helped by the Dolly Parton's My People Fund established by Dolly and her Dollywood Foundation. The Fund sent monthly checks to families to help with short-term recovery.
Though the Fund started with Dolly, it sure didn't end with her. The My People Fund was hoping to raise $6 million through the Dollywood Foundation, but thanks to over 100,000 individual donations, the Fund collected more than $12 million.
"What became so clear is that there's multiple generations of people who have vacationed here ... the visitors had this attachment to Gatlinburg and this love of Sevier County because they come here year after year, and I truly believe that's why they responded so well," David Dotson, Dollywood Foundation President, stated.
Dolly has also started Dolly's Imagination Library. This program inspires a love of reading by gifting books to children from birth to age five in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland. Dolly even uploads videos to her YouTube channel of her reading bedtime stories!
"When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world," Dolly shared.
Parton donated $1 million dollars to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University. The generous donation helped fund the creation and testing of the Moderna vaccine.
More recently, Parton raised $700K for Middle Tennessee flood relief efforts by donating a portion of ticket sales from her Smoky Mountain businesses.
From Pigeon Forge to Nashville and worldwide, Dolly leaves no stone unturned when it comes to helping those in need. She inspires us every day to be thankful for what we have, give to those in need and dream as big as we can.