PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WTHR) - Dolly Parton is delivering on her promise to help families affected by the Tennessee wildfires.
Families who qualified for Dolly Parton's My People Fund lined up Thursday to receive the first round of distributions. Many of the families lost everything when wildfires ripped through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge last month.
The fund is providing $1,000 each month for up to six months to help families who lost their primary residence in the fires get back on their feet and begin the rebuilding process.
"I think it's for me and for Dollywood, Dixie Foundation, all of Dolly's world, it's an affirmation of all the hard work cause there's just this trust that people are placing in us and in her that we're going to do what needs to be done to help our people and that trust factor and belief in us is really a great and wonderful feeling," said David Dotson, president of the Dollywood Foundation.
One of the recipients thanked Parton for establishing the fund after receiving a check that he said will help pay for the costs incurred after losing his home.
"Dolly thank you so much, this check goes to our resort that we've been staying at because they've been helping us and I owe them $900 and today that's where this is going," the man said. "It's carried us through since the fire and I thank everybody in this community and I think what everybody has done is pull together and made this place so much tighter and we're going to rebuild, it's going to get stronger and get better."
Various businesses have made significant donations to the fund. Parton also held a telethon this week which raised nearly $9 million for the foundation, with the total expected to rise as mail-in donations are counted.
More than 2,000 structures in Sevier County were destroyed by the fires, which killed 14 people.