Dolly Parton pledges help for Gatlinburg fire victims

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 08: Dolly Parton press day. Dolly talking about her 2016 North American tour Dolly's largest tour in 25 years, Performing in over 60 cities also her New double disc album "Biggest Hits" At NOVE Entertainment on March 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Webster PR)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 08: Dolly Parton press day. Dolly talking about her 2016 North American tour Dolly's largest tour in 25 years, Performing in over 60 cities also her New double disc album "Biggest Hits" At NOVE Entertainment on March 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Webster PR)

Credit: Rick Diamond

Credit: Rick Diamond

Dollywood to reopen Friday

Tennessee's favorite daughter, Dolly Parton, pledged on Thursday to lend a financial helping hand to the people here who lost their homes to the wildfires.

The country music superstar, who grew up in the area, said through a spokesman that her foundation will provide each person with $1,000 a month for six months.

While exact numbers remain unclear, the donation is expected to assist hundreds of people and could amount to $2 million, said David Dodson, president of The Dollywood Foundation.

So far, officials say some 700 homes in the area have been damaged or destroyed.

"Like everybody, Dolly was heartbroken," said Dodson during a press conference in Gatlinburg. "It is a big dream but Dolly is the chief of big dreams."

Dolly Parton announced a new fund to assist the victims of the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires in Tennessee.

Seven people have died in the fires and dozens were injured. The search continues for more who are believed missing.

Parton built Dollywood here and it is a signature attraction in Gatlinburg. The park closed after the wildfires erupted days ago but it is expected to reopen Friday.

"I have always believed that charity begins at home," Parton said in a statement posted on her foundation website. "We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires."

The money would come through the foundation, funded through donations from Parton, local businesses and outside donations. Several celebrities have expressed interest in helping, he said.

He said people can donate through Dollywoodfoundation.org. 

Parton was raised in Locust Ridge, a remote part of Sevier County. She stayed there until she graduated high school and moved to Nashville.

Dotson quoted a saying Parton often offers: "I've never left Sevier County. I always take Sevier County wherever I go."

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