Dollywood gave back in a big way to the Sevier County Food Ministries Monday.

Sevier County Food Ministries stocks up, fills bags, and feeds hundreds of people every Monday

“Average – we are helping about 1,600 families a week,” said Director Jim Davis.

Feeding those families comes at a cost.

“We spent about $35,000 at Second Harvest in November,” Davis said.

Dollywood handed over a check Monday that covered that cost.

“This is a very difficult time of year for having to take care of people in need, and we are very fortunate our community provides and Dollywood is a big part of our support group,” Davis said.

The park raised $35,000 raised in $5 increments during Sevier County Days when Sevier County residents can check out the park for five bucks.

Since their partnership began two decades ago, Dollywood has given $1.2 million to Sevier County Food Ministries.

“It’s such a good opportunity for Dollywood to give back to the community that’s been so good to us and to have a broad reach to folks throughout Sevier County to help them during the critical time during the holidays,” said Carol Agee, senior manager of community affairs at Dollywood.

With the money coming at the end of the year, it will help the ministry stock up for when things pick up. After the holidays the county’s main industry, tourism, slows down, and many are out of work.

“We’ll have a bump of a couple hundred families a week during the January-February before spring comes and we get back to work,” Davis said.

The money is a chance for Sevier County Food Ministries to kickstart the new year.

“The need doesn’t go away. After Christmas the need is still there, and it’s just a critical time. I know overall philanthropic giving is down, so anything that we can do to help Jim and his team feed those in Sevier County we want to be a part of that,” Agee said.