Betty White Challenge raises tens of thousands for local animal shelters

The Betty White Challenge marks the 100th birthday of late actress while raising millions of dollars for animal charities across North America.

The 99 year-old Hollywood sweetheart died on New Year's Eve, but despite the fact that Betty White is no longer with us, her legacy lives on.

On what would have been her 100th Birthday, the world is honouring her by acknowledging a passion near to her heart: her legendary love for animals.

The Betty White Challenge was trending on social media Monday, encouraging donations to animal based charities, as small as $5 in White's name.

Some calling it, "the movement she deserves" on what would have been her century birthday.

As a result, local humane societies are feeling the love.

“As of 1:30 this afternoon we've raised over $20,000 from the Betty White Challenge, which is far greater then what we anticipated,” said Nick Burke, director of development with the Kitchener-Waterloo and Stratford Perth Humane Society.

Officials with the Guelph Humane Society say they’ve seen donations in White’s name being made for about a week now. Since those began, they have also received nearly $20,000 as of Monday afternoon.

As of Tuesday, both of those totals have jumped to $30,000.

Guelph Humane Society marketing and communications manager Natalie Thomas said donations are typically at their peak during the holiday season in December.

“January is usually really slow,” she said.

She added the increase in financial support was unexpected yet delightful.

“All of a sudden this just lit up. It goes to show you how powerful social media is.”

The challenge has brought in millions of extra dollars to charities across North America, made on behalf of the Golden Girls star.

The hashtag #BettyWhiteChallenge is being shared across multiple social media platforms. On TikTok, it had already received more than 1 million views as of Sunday evening.

Some donations include notes about why they loved White, and why they are supporting one of her favorite causes.

Across the province, Ontario SPCA media relations specialist Kallie Milleman said they’ve felt the love too.

“We starting hearing from community members across the province last week actually. Of people interested in wanting to know where they can donate, how they can donate.”

The OSPCA, along with most humane societies in the province, do not receive government support. They rely on donations from the public.

“Funds that we raise today will go to help fosters have the food and medical support they need,” Burke said.

In White’s home state of Illinois, senate announced Jan. 17 will be officially known as Betty White day.

In Guelph, they now have their very own Betty White.

“We thought, if we get an older animal that comes in over the weekend, let’s just name her Betty in honour of Betty for her birthday,” Thomas explained.

“It just so happens an eight-year-old senior cat came in over the weekend and so they named her Betty White.”

The feline also happens to be white, with black markings including one on her nose.

“So, you can wait for Betty to be adopted in the coming weeks.” Thomas added with smile.

White’s birthday fell on what has been a whopper of a snow storm for much of central and southern Ontario.

“My dog included is absolutely loving going out and being in the snow and just having a field day out there.” Burke said.

“Maybe that's Betty’s way of just giving them one last thank you for being our best friends and our companions,” he added.

The Golden Girls infamous theme song rang, “Thank you for being a friend.”

It’s a slogan animal charities are now singing back to a super-star who left a roaring, generous legacy behind.

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