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Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946 in Sevier County, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve children born to a subsistence farm family. Dolly's family may have been poor, but she had dreams of doing something great. "I went to bed hungry many nights as a child," she's said. "It was a Dream that dressed me up when I was ragged, and it was a Dream that filled me up when I was hungry. Now it's my Dream to see that no child in this world ever goes hungry." When Dolly began making money as a singer and songwriter, she and her husband Carl Dean provided for her younger siblings. As much as her prolific songwriting career -- she just was awarded two Guinness World Records for her long-lived success -- Dolly is known for her amazing sense of humor, over-the-top style, and her kindness.
Now, y'all know that I'm basically obsessed with Dolly not only because of her amazing songs (Jolene is my favorite!) and her amazing films (9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias both had a huge impact on my early life!) but also because of her graciousness and kindness. I love that she's embraced all her fans and made Dollywood an inclusive, LGBT-friendly workplace. I love that she's providing preschool children around the world with books through the Imagination Library. And I love that she never forgets where she came from. Robert Harling, who wrote Steel Magnolias, recently recalled Dolly's amazing attitude on the film's set in a Garden and Gun article. While the film's other ladies were complaining about wearing heavy Christmas sweaters in the Louisiana heat, Dolly kept her cool, both proverbially and literally:" The women were dressed for Christmas, and Dolly was sitting on the swing. She had on that white cashmere sweater with the marabou around the neck, and she was just swinging, cool as a cucumber. Julia said, 'Dolly, we’re dying and you never say a word. Why don’t you let loose?' Dolly very serenely smiled and said, 'When I was young and had nothing, I wanted to be rich and famous, and now I am. So I’m not going to complain about anything.'" I mean, that's a lesson we could all take to heart: remembering the blessings we actually have.
To celebrate Dolly's birthday, our friends at Draper James are donating all of their online and in-store proceeds for the day to Dolly's Imagination Library. Y'all, this is seriously one of the coolest initiatives ever. Miss Dolly founded the Imagination Library in 1995 to provide books to the children of her hometown Sevierville, Tennessee. Dolly's mission to ensure that children had access to high-quality, age-appropriate books, regardless of household income, was designed to honor her own father, whose circumstances in the Appalachian hills of Tennessee led to his never learning to read or write. Over the past 22 years, the Imagination Library has mailed more than 100 million books to children in Australia, Belize, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. This service is completely free to the recipients, y'all! Over 1600 communities are served, and over 1.1 million children have registered! Here in Kentucky, there are over fifty Imagination Library affiliate programs. You can register your child aged 2-5, regardless of household income, if you live in an area supported by the Imagination Library.
I LOVE my What Would Dolly Do tee from Draper James, and I want the tote bag so badly. Celebrating Dolly's birthday AND helping kids have access to books sounds like a win-win reason to order it, doesn't it?
Do y'all love Dolly as much as I do? Tell me your favorite Dolly song or role in the comments below!