Betty White social media challenge impacts Simcoe Muskoka animal shelters

A global challenge to raise funds for animals on Betty White's 100th birthday is far-reaching, having significant impacts in Simcoe Muskoka.

The 'Betty White Challenge' first started gaining traction after the beloved actress, and well-known animal lover passed away on Dec. 31, just three weeks before her 100th birthday.

The challenge is pushing people across the world to make a financial contribution to their local animal shelter.

"This is historic. We have never had this type of response to a challenge," said Sonya Reichel, Georgian Triangle Humane Society executive director.

"It was about 9 o'clock this morning that we started to get a little bit of a red flag from our administrative department as they were trying to process the amount of donations that were coming in."

By 11 a.m., the Collingwood-based organization had received more than 200 donations, enough to briefly crash its website.

"If we're receiving that type of reaction here in little Collingwood, I can only imagine what the rest of the world is experiencing," Reichel said. "So it's going to be truly staggering to find out what the combined impact is going to be from this challenge, and it's truly such a tribute to Betty White and all that she believed in."

The Ontario SCPA is also benefiting from the challenge, which is critical since it doesn't receive any government funding.

By 1 p.m. on Monday, it had more than $26,000 in donations.

"Today, we are seeing donations coming in by the minute," said Kallie Milleman, Ontario SPCA. "It's been incredibly surprising, incredibly humbling, and we're so excited to see all of these incredible donations because we know that we're going to be able to help more animals across Ontario because of all of this incredibly generous support."

The OSPCA will also be receiving donations from a fundraiser being held all week long by the Lockeroom.

The Barrie restaurant's owner Dana Parris is holding a 'Truck Load' fundraiser, selling restaurant-quality food in bulk, with $5 from each sale going directly towards the Barrie animal center.

"It's funny how it just quickly has grown so much. Everybody had a love for Betty White, everybody did," Parris said. "We all know about her love of animals, and just what better way to pay tribute to her than to just help out such a good cause, and we're so excited to be on board with it."

The Lockeroom fundraiser will run until next Monday.