Dolly Parton On Winning Carnegie Medal Of Philanthropy, Being Taught To "Give More Than You Receive"

Parton is the first female entertainer to be honored with the prestigious award.

Dolly Parton
Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Dolly Parton was one of six awarded for making the world a better place with the prestigious 2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy last week.

The award reflects Parton's wide assortment of philanthropic endeavors through the Dollywood Foundation, Imagination Library, and donations to medical research including $1 million towards Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy's selection committee, Parton was chosen as a 2022 honoree for going above and beyond to help others. "With her philanthropy and her artistry, she has empowered and lifted up the citizens of her Tennessee home county as well as millions more around the world," a statement from the organization explains. Parton is the first female entertainer to be honored with the award.

In an interview with Vogue, Parton explained where her famous focus on philanthropy work stems from and how she's not one to "hide under the covers" when things get hard or scary.

"I grew up in a very open-hearted, faith-based family. You're taught to love and be accepting, and to give more than you receive. Both sides of my family are funny, tender-hearted, good people," the country legend said. "Whether you believe in God or not, you need to be grounded; you need to believe in something greater than yourself. We grew up thinking that other people are just as important as we are. I wrote a song that's going to be in my Christmas movie special in December. And it goes, 'Whoever you are, be that. Whatever you do, do that. Anything else is just an act.'"

"When I got into a position to be able to do it on a larger scale, I did," Parton continued. "It means a lot to me. How hard can it be for me to take pride in the Imagination Library, knowing that I'm helping put books in the hands of children all over the world? It's more about children learning to read—it's the fact they get recognized. They get this little book with their little name on it in the mail, and they feel special. They start taking pride in themselves, and they know that somebody out there is thinking of [them]."

Founded in 1995 as a tribute to her father who couldn't read, Parton's Imagination Library has been mailing free books to children for almost a quarter of a century. To date, it has shipped more than 188,754,464 books.

Speaking with People about the decades of do-gooding that led to her winning a Carnegie Medal, Parton said that she trusts her heart to lead her to the most meaningful causes. There are no ulterior motives… it's as simple as that.

"I always want to do things that I can be proud to talk about, things that I believe in," Parton said. "I cannot be a hypocrite and just say I'm going to donate this money for a tax write-off. I'd really like for it to mean something to me—something I can take pride in."

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