Dolly Parton's most beloved good deeds, from funding COVID vaccine to gifting children's books to those in need

Dolly Parton photographed in 2019. (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
Dolly Parton photographed in 2019. (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Dolly Parton has a knack for helping people, whether it's with her music, her money or her own hands.

Her child co-star on the 2021 Netflix musical Christmas on the Square recalled that Parton once yanked her out of the way of an oncoming car! Talia Hill, who was 9 at the time, relayed the story to Inside Edition in Dec. 2020.

"We were on-set, and I was at the hot chocolate station, and they said, 'Go back to your beginning positions,'" Hill said. "So, there is a vehicle moving, and I was walking, and then somebody grabbed me and pulled me back. And I looked up, and it was Dolly Parton."

And that's just one story of Parton's off-camera kindness.

Even with all her accomplishments in music — having won 10 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and 50 nominations, as well as recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center and many other organizations over her six decades in the industry — the "Jolene" artist is just as celebrated for her good works.

Here's why she's such a big deal when it comes to philanthropy:

Don't all celebrities do some charity work for PR purposes?

  • They often do, but not at the scale Parton has done it for so long.

Did she really fund the first COVID vaccine?

  • Yes. Parton contributed $1 million that Vanderbilt University Medical Center used to develop Moderna's vaccine, and she's consistently spoken in favor of being vaccinated.

What else has she done?

  • The singer's made serious investments in health, but also education, whether through scholarships and financial incentives for students in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, or her Imagination Library, which has distributed more than 150 million books to children 5 and under, regardless of income, in honor of her father, who couldn't read.

  • Others who've benefited from her generosity include fire victims in her home state, animals and pediatric patients.

Has she done anything other than give money?

What does she get out of all this?

  • She's been recognized for her philanthropic efforts — and her hit career — countless times, but she's even turned down some awards. In February 2021, she asked Tennessee lawmakers to remove a bill that would've created a statue of her at the state capital.

  • "I'm kind of addicted to the feeling of giving," Parton told People in December. "Knowing that I'm doing something good for someone else."