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Dolly Parton thanks Taylor Swift for wildfire cash as telethon begins

The country veteran is still struggling with the aftermath of the Tennessee blaze, which ripped through 17,000 acres.

Dolly Parton reached out to Taylor Swift to thank the birthday girl for donating cash to her new charity as she prepared for a star-studded telethon in Tennessee on Tuesday night (13Dec16).

Dolly launched the My People Fund at the beginning of December (16) to raise much-needed funds for whole communities left homeless by the wildfires that hit areas of her native state, and Taylor was one of the first celebrities to dig deep and donate.

As Dolly launched the Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund telethon to raise more cash for the initiative on Tuesday she had Taylor, who turned 27 the same day, in her thoughts.

Swift made a $100,000 (GBP79,000) donation last week (ends09Dec16), and Parton was more that grateful.

"Taylor Swift, I noticed through the years, she's the first to throw herself right into any good cause," Parton said. "Any time anything happens, Taylor's there to make big donations and offer time and money. I'm so thankful to her. I just think she's precious."

Dolly is still heartbroken to think about all the people who lost their homes in the fires, which forced the temporary closure of her Dollywood themepark in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

"These are the woods I roamed around in as a little kid," Parton told Entertainment Tonight. "We were blessed none of my family were injured and lost in the properties, but so many of my friends and neighbours lost everything.

"You never think about a thing like that happening... The only thing I can relate to it is when we had the floods in Nashville and how devastating that was."

The fire broke out on 23 November (16) and burned through over 17,000 acres.

Parton has pledged she will donate $1,000 (GBP790)-per-month for six months to families affected by the disaster through the new charity drive.

"It's not a lot of money, but if we make more money, we'll just be able to help them more," Parton said.

The country music veteran kicked off the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon with a message to viewers, asking them to give generously as they watched performances by herself, Kenny Rogers, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper and others.

Dolly then opened the fundraiser by singing My Mountains, My Home.

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