And they deserve it.

By Melissa Locker
December 07, 2019

After wildfires tour through the Great Smoky Mountains last November, Dolly Parton jumped into action. The Tennessee native wanted to do something to help the families whose homes had been destroyed in the blaze, so she set up the My People Fund to raise much needed funds through her Dollywood Foundation.

The generosity of the country legend—and everyone else who donated to the worthy cause through telethons and direct contributions—meant that she was able to give $1,000 a month for six months to families who lost their homes.

The big surprise came earlier this week, though, when Parton herself handed out the last checks. Not only did the families get to meet the Country Music Hall of Fame performer, but turns out that thanks to generous donations, the final checks were even bigger than expected. Parton's fundraising efforts had been so successful that there was extra money in the My People Fund. That mean Parton was able to give each family a little extra—$5,000 for the last check, for a grand total of $10,000 per family. "This is some extra money from the fund," Parton told a little girl and her father in a video for People Now. "We had six months that I promised I would give you money every month, and we had some extra money as a surprise, so there's $5,000 for a bonus check." In a statement she added, "I know $10,000 can't solve everything, but I do hope the money will help them to dream again."

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The large checks were possible due to Parton's hard work fundraising for a cause she truly believed in, because she "hurt and grieved and prayed right along with" the victims of the blaze, as she said in an essay for CNN. "I'm one of them and they are part of me," she wrote. "I knew that I had to do something to get my people through these hard times and see them land on their feet on the other side. That's what families do. That's what neighbors do."

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