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#BettyWhiteChallenge brings in thousands for Kingston area animal welfare organizations

The #BettyWhiteChallenge was celebrated worldwide on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2022, the day which would have marked White’s 100th birthday.

The late, great Betty White was a friend to many, especially those of the animal variety, the welfare of whom she advocated for much for her career. Photo of Betty White in 2010 via Wiki Creative Commons, photo of dogs against pink wall by Hannah Lim.

White died on New Year’s eve, December 31, 2021, after a decades-long career as an actor. White was an award-winning performer and had many other claims to her name, including her production company that made her the first woman to produce a national TV Show, Life with Elizabeth, from 1953 to 1955.

Along with her career in the entertainment industry, White was a lifelong advocate of animal welfare, a prominent supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, and supported advocacy programs such as HIV/AIDS Awareness. 

Like many others, Kingston Humane Society and a number of local animal shelters, sanctuaries, and welfare advocacy groups saw fans of White and her passion for animals join in the #BettyWhiteChallenge, with thousands of dollars in funds raised by these organizations throughout the area. 

As of Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, $44,408.52 had been donated to the Kingston Humane Society. Those with the organization said they are grateful and emotional to see a positive response coming from White’s fans across the region. 

Gord Hunter, Executive Director at the Kingston Humane Society, shared that they have been over capacity with animals for most of the last eight months, which means more food and medicine are required for the animals. Therefore, Hunter said, the funds raised through the #BettyWhiteChallenge will go towards the care, feeding, treatment and surgeries of the animals in their care. 

“Betty’s love for animals and her support of animal welfare organizations is legendary. Our donors and supporters are the same and I think that’s why the Betty White Challenge hit home with so many. Ultimately, that connection and that compassion for animals that are neglected, abused or mistreated, is why it was so successful in raising money across North America,” said Hunter. 

White’s love for animals dates back to her childhood, and she worked towards the rescue and welfare of many animals, including dogs, cats, horses, and wildlife around the world. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she described how donating to animal charities is her most loved form of giving. 

Hence, keeping her legacy alive, and with the support of her devoted fans, many organizations across Canada and worldwide have raised funds that will help with animal welfare, health and wellness. 

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Greater Napanee has raised close to $23,000 through the same challenge. These funds will help pay for vital medical treatments and daily operations of the wildlife centre.

“We are immensely grateful for everyone’s support! What a testament to the fantastic legacy created by Betty,” said Leah Birmingham, Registered Veterinary Technologist and Assistant Director at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre.

Kingston Animal Rescue also benefited from the generosity of Kingstonians taking up the challenge. “What an amazing day yesterday was! 142 of you honoured Betty White’s memory with a donation to KAR. An incredible $4,653.92 was raised in 24 hours! It’s inspiring what happens when a community comes together. Thank you for being a friend to the animals,’ the organization said in a social media post.

The Gananoque and District Humane Society also raised $10,000 and a $25 gift card from Amazon, which will be used in building repairs and animal care.

“Betty White was/is an inspiration for those involved in animal welfare. She used her celebrity to bring awareness to many issues that affect animals, including spaying and neutering. Her work and devotion for animals will live on for years to come,” said Kelly Croft, Director GDHS

People can still donate to their local animal shelters and organizations and help with the needs and health of animals in honour of Betty White, or simply due to the outstanding needs of animal welfare organizations during the pandemic, by visiting the websites of their favourite organizations, including the smaller, independent community organizations that work tirelessly to help keep pets and animals in the Kingston area as safe and healthy as possible.

Ted Hsu for MPP
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