The people of Sevier County, TN have a Christmas angel this year in the form of a tiny blonde with a beautiful voice and a talent for playing guitar.
Country singer Dolly Parton used her star status during the Gatlinburg wildfires to appeal to her fans to help victims who had "lost everything" in the blaze that decimated Eastern Tennessee in recent weeks. According to CNN, the final toll was a devastating 14 people dead, another 175 injured, and more than 2,400 houses, businesses and other structures destroyed. The price tag for the damage is upwards of $500 million. Two juveniles have been charged with starting the fires.
In a testament to the goodness of Americans and the faith of a Tennessee native who loves her home state, Parton has reportedly raised nearly $9 million dollars through her "Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund" telethon.
The Tennessean reports the telethon, which aired Tuesday, featured more than 20 live and pre-taped performances of well-known musicians. Everyone from "Cyndi Lauper and Don McLean to Parton, Kenny Rogers, Chris Young, Chris Stapleton and Reba McEntire. Celebrities including Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Stapleton, Young, Paul Simon and Dierks Bentley made significant donations to the My People Fund as did the Academy of Country Music, ACM Lifting Lives and the Country Music Association."
“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people who have donated from all over the country and to my friends who donated their time, their talent, and money for My People,” Parton said in a statement. “The response has been so overwhelming that we haven’t been able to count all of the donations yet; right now, in total, we have raised about $9 million for the folks who lost everything in Sevier County.”
While Parton gives due credit to those who helped in the effort to rebuild Gatlinburg, she would be well within her rights to take a little of the credit herself. Chances are, like all Christmas angels, she never will.