Dolly Parton is the reigning savior of Christmas and 2020. Her Netflix Christmas special, “Christmas on the Square,” premieres on November 22, and features Parton as an angel who encourages kindness and charity in a Scrooge-esqe landlord, played by Christine Baranski. Then there’s the whole COVID-19 vaccine thing. Parton has proven to be quite the philanthropist over the course of her 60-year career, rising from humble roots to become one of the most iconic names in country, she’s utilized her fame and wealth to act as an empowering and charitable force. From supporting medical research to producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here are ten times that Dolly Parton was a literal angel. Just give her wings and a halo already.
When she donated $1 million to research on the Moderna vaccine
Parton’s most recent headlines follow the announcement of Moderna’s reportedly 95 percent effective COVID-19 vaccination, which cited the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund in its list of supporters. Parton donated $1 million to the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation in Nashville, Tennessee, which was crucial in initial research funding. So you can thank Dolly when we’re back in the clubs come summertime. When asked about her contribution on BBC One’s The One Show on Tuesday, she said, “I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world. I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”
Then she read children’s bedtime stories during the pandemic
When she wasn’t helping create the vaccine for COVID, she was reading bedtime stories to children virtually during the pandemic. The ten-week series, called “Goodnight With Dolly,” streamed on YouTube earlier this year. Parton wanted to help children and families by providing “a welcome distraction during a time of unrest and also inspire a love of reading and books.” There are even other resources like parent reading guides and activity sheets with every video. I’m going to start watching these instead of ASMR videos every night before bed.
When she started the Imagination Library
Since its inception in 1995, Parton’s children’s literacy program, the Imagination Library, has grown into an international organization that reaches all 50 states as well as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Her inspiration for the Imagination Library comes from her father’s illiteracy and the lack of reading resources in her hometown. Before her father died in 2000, he told Parton that this project was “probably the most important thing [she’d] ever done.” In 2018, the Imagination Library celebrated the delivery of its 100 millionth book, and every month sends out over 1 million books to children under the age of 5.
Her continued support for her hometown
Parton’s work for Sevier County, in Tennessee, where she was born and raised, has been a consistent area of philanthropic work over the years. The Dollywood Foundation focuses on two areas, the Imagination Library and Mountain Tough, which currently offers comprehensive resources for those affected by COVID-19 in Sevier County, including employers, workers, and schools. The Dollywood Foundation also helps those in the county connect with counseling and food resources, and provides shopping assistance for senior citizens.
When she created the My People Fund
In 2016, in the wake of the Gatlinburg fires that ravaged parts of Tennessee, including Sevier County, Parton and the Dollywood Foundation created the My People Fund to aid those who had lost their homes. The My People Fund ultimately gave $10,000 to 900 families, an achievement that was recognized by the FBI when she received their Director’s Community Leadership Award in 2018.
When she speaks out for the rights of others
Dolly Parton does not often speak openly about politics, but anytime she does it’s in the name of support and rooting for kindness. Parton has been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, and recently spoke to Billboard about the Black Lives Matter movement, saying succinctly, “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”
When her production company green-lit Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Parton’s production company, Sandollar Productions, was responsible for producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which she is an uncredited producer. Sandollar also produced the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film that came out in 1992, and didn’t let the film’s poor reception prevent it from becoming one of the most enduring shows of the ’90s. Parton and her former manager Sandy Gallin’s belief in the story line pushed them to seek production for a full television series. The show’s heroine and America’s heroine also share the same birthday, January 19.
When Dollywood opened a Bald Eagle reserve
Proving that she’s the model American, Parton opened the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood in 1991, under the American Eagle Foundation. Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is the country’s largest bald eagle reservation for “non-releaseable” bald eagles. In some ways, we can think about ourselves at “non-releaseable” eagles all under the sheltered wing of Dolly Parton this year.
When she spoke for the working class in “9 to 5”
She’s always been a woman for the people, as she demonstrated in her working-class anthem “9 to 5.” A triumphant ode to those working hard to earn a dime while others earn a dollar is a stark criticism of “the Man.” Eat your heart out, Karl Marx.
When she kept “I Will Always Love You” out of the hands of Elvis Presley
After Parton recorded “I Will Always Love You” back in 1974, Elvis Presley came knocking, asking to record the song himself. A heartbroken Parton found herself saying no after his manager said that Presley wanted to own half of the publishing rights. Whitney Houston stans? Praise be.