Who knew? This is truly inspiring. Her phenomenal generosity toward people in need extends far beyond the money she’s given to support those recovering from the devastating fires in her home state.
Underneath the aw-shucks, who-me persona is a serious woman, now 70, and one of the most philanthropic celebrities around. In 2006, the Associated Press pointed out that while “much of her philanthropy has been anonymous” (or at least done quietly), it includes such gifts as the $60,000 she provided per year for disadvantaged Sevier County high school students, something she has done in varying amounts since the 1970s. And the program she created that offered $500 to children in the county who both graduated high school and convinced a classmate not to drop out. Not to mention the $100,000 she donated in 1997 to open the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit at the LeConte Medical Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., so expectant mothers wouldn’t have to drive all the way to Knoxville when their time came. Even at the time, she seemed to play off this last donation in her joking, flirty way. “Lordy, Lordy, I don’t know nothing about birthing babies!” she said, according to the Deseret News. “Just think of all the babies who’ll be born in Sevier County at the Dolly Parton unit. It’s a great compliment.” Easily her most wide-reaching philanthropic work is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, one of the country’s largest literacy projects, which she funded partially with proceeds from Dollywood, according to Forbes. To her, it was important that children be afforded the opportunity to read, regardless of their parents’ income level. The Imagination Library began in 1995 with a simple goal: Mail one book, each month, to every child in Sevier County from birth to age 5 so “she could ensure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.” The program was so successful that in 2000, she offered to expand it to any community that would partner with her to support such a program. It exploded. The program is now global, found in some 1,600 communities across the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. It now sends more than 1 million books to children across the world, every month.
Read it all. God love her.