ET joined Dolly Parton in Tennessee on Tuesday before the country music legend
's Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund
"These are the woods I roamed around in as a little kid," Parton told ET. "We were blessed none of my family were injured and lost in the properties, but so many of my friends and neighbors lost everything."
Last month, wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains caused thousands to flee from the Tennessee foothills and left many homeless.
"You never think about a thing like that happening," Parton said. "Especially in the Smoky Mountains -- the most beautiful place, the most-visited national park in the United States. You just think they're supposed to just be there in their glory forever. The only thing I can relate to it is when we had the floods in Nashville and how devastating that was."
More than 17,000 acres have burned since the fire broke out on Nov. 23, and the damage has been estimated at more than $500 million. Parton told ET that the goal is to raise at least $10 million, and she's already gotten a head start. Kenny Chesney, an East Tennessee native, gave $250,000 to the cause, while Taylor Swift made a $100,000 donation last week. Swift's contribution was matched by the Academy of Country Music
for a combined $200,000 donation in advance of the telethon.
"Taylor Swift, I noticed through the years, she's the first to throw herself right into any good cause," Parton gushed about the pop star. "Any time anything happens, Taylor's there to make big donations and offer time and money. I'm so thankful to her. I
just think she's precious."
Parton has personally pledged that her companies will donate $1,000 per month for six months to families affected by the disaster.
"It's not a lot of money, but if we make more money, we'll just be able to help them more," Parton said.
The telethon will feature performances by Parton as well as some of her famous friends like Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Big & Rich, Chris Young, Hank Williams Jr., Cyndi Lauper and more.
"I think people are absolutely going to love it!" Parton said.
The disaster is clearly very close to Parton's heart, and she said this played a part in the naming of her My People fund
"My family show at Dollywood is called 'My People,' and so we felt that would be the perfect thing, because it's about my people, the ones who aren't blood I could say are good neighbors and feel like family," Parton explained. "And even the fans and the people who come to all our businesses there, they're like family, so they're my people too. It just seemed to be the perfect name for it."
The Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund
telethon airs Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. EST on Great American Country. Click here