SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- On Friday, Dolly Parton announced her decision to donate the remaining $3 million from the My People Fund to Mountain Tough.
Mountain Tough is the official team to help with rebuilding and recovery efforts in Sevier County after wildfires blazed through the Smoky Mountains in November. Organizers said 100% of the funds will go directly to families affected by the devastation.
“We’ve spoken with so many individuals affected by the fires who say the My People Fund was critical in helping them get their lives back on track,” said Ellen Wilhoit, Chair of the Mountain Tough Recovery Team. “Once The Dollywood Foundation completed their monthly distributions, they were looking for the best way to put the remaining funds to work for the people of Sevier County. We are so honored by their gracious support of the Mountain Tough recovery efforts. Three million dollars is a tremendous sum of money and we are going to work with various agencies throughout the county to ensure our efforts are coordinated in a way to make sure the affected citizens of Sevier County receive the most impact from this gift.”
The announcement comes after Dolly surprised wildfire survivors Thursday by giving My People Fund recipients $5,000 each at the final check distribution instead of the previously allotted $1,000.
The money from the My People Fund went to owners or renters who lost their primary residences in the November wildfires. The fund was created by Dolly Parton, The Dollywood Company, Parton’s dinner theaters and The Dollywood Foundation, was supported by contributions from across the country, as well as donations made through the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon which took place in early December.
After the wildfires caused thousands to evacuate, Dolly Parton launched the My People Fund that has raised more than $9.3 million thanks to donations flooding in from across the country.
The fund issued monthly checks to over 921 people.
The Mountain Tough Recovery Team is led by Janice Hendrix. The Mountain Tough office will be located at 906 East Parkway, Suite 2, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. The team can be reached by calling (865) 436-8112.