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The next time you wonder "What Would Dolly Do," instead think "What Would Dolly Give?"
Just a couple months ago, Amazon founder and one of the richest people on earth Jeff Bezos made Dolly Parton the most recent recipient of his Courage and Civility Award. With it came $100 million that Dolly could use in any charitable way she wanted.
“I try to put my money where my heart is,” she said after receiving the award. “I will do my best to do good things with this money.” But that’s nothing new for the Dolly Llama, whose good deeds have become legendary.
Not to be outdone by Bezos, we’ve bestowed Dolly with her own title — Patron Saint of Appalachia. Here are eight times she earned it hard.
1. GIVING A SLEW OF KIDS BOOKS
Since 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has given free books to children. Today one in ten American kids participate plus more in other countries. From birth to age five, they each receive a book a month. Dolly’s now given away nearly 200 million of them — so many children call her The Book Lady. This initiative has become one of her life’s greatest joys, and it also meant the world to her father, who was unable to read or write.
2. HELPING WILDFIRE SURVIVORS
When 2016 wildfires tore through Dolly’s Smoky Mountain homeland, scorching 16,000 acres and damaging or destroying over 2,000 buildings, she put her star power to work. Rallying famous friends like Hank Williams Jr. and Cyndi Lauper, she spearheaded a telethon and created the My People Fund, which raised
3. CREATING A COVID-19 VACCINE
Dolly famously donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University in Nashville for research in 2020 that led to the creation of one of the first COVID-19 vaccines. Her gift has helped save countless lives and tremendous suffering worldwide.
4. MAKING COLLEGE ACCESSIBLE
They say charity begins at home, and home is still close to Dolly’s heart. Every year, for decades now, a graduate from each of the five high schools in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly was raised, has received a $15,000 scholarship from her.
WE'LL DELIVER DOLLY TO YOUR DOOR
5. PROVIDING WOMEN WITH GREAT HEALTHCARE
Dolly raised $1 million for the Dolly Parton Center for Women’s Services at East Tennessee’s LeConte Medical Center. There, women of all ages seek treatment for breast cancer, cardiac events, and more. Meanwhile, in the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit, babies take their first breaths while their moms receive world-class care.
6. KIDS TOO
She also donated $1 million, not once but twice, to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to help children.
7. CARING FOR LORETTA'S LYNN'S PEOPLE
She helped raise $700,000 for victims of flooding in Middle Tennessee, with a focus in the area where her friend Loretta Lynn lived, wanting to repay the help Loretta gave after wildfires in Dolly’s part of the state.
8. KEEPING SENIORS ACTIVE
Dolly supported and rededicated the senior center in Sevierville as the My People Senior Activities Center, in memory of her parents, Lee and Avie Lee Parton.
And we’re sure that’s just the start. Dolly says, “When you’re in a position to help, you should.” It’s impossible to say how many lives she's touched. Every single day, her music inspires people around the world and her acts of kindness reach just as far. So the next time you wonder "What Would Dolly Do," Instead think "What Would Dolly Give?" And then do some of that.