Dolly Parton Is Clearing The Air About Her Charitable Endeavors

Dolly Parton isn't one of the world's most beloved celebrities — if not the most beloved — just because she's a country music icon, though that certainly helps. Parton is also widely loved and admired for her various philanthropic efforts and charities, which is why she was honored with a Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2022. Through her Dollywood Foundation Imagination Library, the star has helped millions of children learn to read since it began in 1995. She's also donated generously to various other causes and organizations over the years. "With her philanthropy and her artistry, she has empowered and lifted up the citizens of her Tennessee home county as well as millions more around the world," the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy said in their statement, per People

Many wealthy celebrities donate a portion of their income to charity or lend their names to worthy organizations, but Parton makes it clear that she's not in this for clout or financial gain. 

Dolly Parton wants her charity to be meaningful to her

When Dolly Parton decides to give back, she wants to make sure she's giving to a cause that's meaningful to her. "I always want to do things that I can be proud to talk about, things that I believe in," Parton told People. "I cannot be a hypocrite and just say I'm going to donate this money for a tax write-off. I'd really like for it to mean something to me — something I can take pride in." 

Take the Imagination Library, for instance. Parton has often said in interviews that the organization — which donates a free book once a month to children from the time they are born until age five — was inspired by her father. "The Imagination Library came from a very serious place in my heart. My dad and a lot of my relatives that grew up hard too, big families, they couldn't actually get a chance to go to school, because they had to work," the singer-songwriter told CNBC in 2016. 

Despite being smart and talented, Parton's dad never learned to read and write, which is why the "9 to 5" singer decided to focus on childhood literacy. "When I decided what I was going to do for a great charity, then I thought well I'm gonna do this: To get books in the hands of children, because if you can learn to read, if you can read, you can self-educate yourself," she said.