April 10, 2020

Dollywood Presents Critical Items to Sevier County First Responders, East TN Children’s Hospital

While the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced Dollywood to postpone its season opening, hosts are finding new and creative ways to give back to the community that has supported the park for 35 years.
Two weeks ago, the park provided the Sevier County Food Ministries with a check for more than $16,000 to help shore up the nonprofit’s supplies just as it began facing unprecedented demand. Now, two of Dollywood’s hardworking teams have found additional ways to provide crucial items to two important groups.

Last week, Dollywood’s wardrobe and costume shop teams began producing reusable face masks to give to patients, nurses, and doctors at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. In one day, the wardrobe team produced 350 masks, while the costume shop team created 250 adult masks and 250 children’s masks over the course of two days. Members of both teams have asked to continue making the masks from home, so company officials will provide supplies currently on hand to allow the teams to produce additional masks.
“We are blessed to have talented hosts working in our wardrobe and costume shops,” explained Eugene Naughton, vice president of Dollywood Park Operations. “East Tennessee Children’s Hospital reached out to us to see if we could help, and as soon as we received the call, our teams started working. We knew this was the right thing to do, and our hosts have done an amazing job producing these masks. We’re just glad to do our part.”

Also last week, Dollywood’s safety team provided 200 ponchos to the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency, Pigeon Forge Fire Department, and the Sevier County Ambulance Service. Due to the ongoing medical supply shortage, the groups are in dire need of gowns that typically are used to protect first responders from bodily fluids that may be present in scenes where they are needed to perform live-saving measures. When hearing of the need, the park’s safety and merchandise teams knew the stock of Dollywood souvenir ponchos on hand could be used to meet the need.
“When we heard they were in need of this vital personal protective equipment, we knew we had to find a way to assist,” Naughton explained. “These folks are on the front lines every day and we have to do all we can to keep them safe. We have a close working relationship with these groups—in fact, a number of our EMTs on staff also work for these local agencies—so we’re honored to be able to help them in this way.”