The thousands displaced by fires in Tennessee just found a hero in Dolly Parton.

Residents of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which has been battered by deadly wildfires for days, are getting some much needed help from their most famous neighbor.

Dolly Parton. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

In a video and written statement released this week on her foundation's website, award-winning singer and actor Dolly Parton announced the creation of a fund to help the region rebuild, even as the fires continue to rage.


"I have always believed that charity begins at home," the singer said. "That’s why I’ve asked my Dollywood Companies — including the Dollywood Theme Park, and DreamMore Resort; my dinner theater attractions including Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure; and my Dollywood Foundation to help me establish the 'My People Fund.'"

The fund aims to provide residents who lost their homes to the fire $1,000 every month for six months, to help them rebuild.

The fires have already claimed seven lives, injured dozens, and damaged hundreds of buildings since they began spreading on Monday.

A birdcage sits among debris burned by the Gatlinburg wildfires. Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images.

Severe drought conditions in the region helped the flames, which appear to have been human caused, sweep into downtown Gatlinburg quickly and without warning.

Several people remain missing, giving families with elderly or less mobile relatives special cause for concern. In some cases, they've already had to confront the worst.

According to a WKRN report, victims of the blazes have included both locals and tourists — many of whom come to the area to visit its ski resorts and Parton's Dollywood amusement park.

Fire officials have yet to determine when displaced residents — that number over 10,000 — will be able to return to their homes.

Meanwhile, many locals have expressed frustration that their plight has been ignored or downplayed by the national press — as Jason Howard, a writer with family ties to the area, expressed in an opinion piece published yesterday in the New York Times.

"For most folks like me, this calamity is less about the lost jobs than about the lost memories of a place of great beauty, in a part of the country that sorely needed it," Howard wrote.

Parton's pledge not only stands to make the rebuilding process bearable for families who lost everything, it brings some much-needed attention to the area's struggle.

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.

Much like her earlier advocacy for LGBT rights, the singer is hoping to leverage her star power to do some good for the people she knows and loves best, calling the region, "the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home."

Parton plans to release more details on her plan to aid the displaced families soon, according to her statement.

The people of East Tennessee have been asking America to listen for days.

Now, at last, they have a powerful voice on their side.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."