Kingston-area animal charities overwhelmed by Betty White Challenge

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KINGSTON – Many local animal shelters, shelters and charities large and small are overwhelmed and very grateful for the donations made through the virtual Betty White Challenge, saying that January being a difficult month, community support has makes a difference.

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The Betty White Challenge was launched on social media shortly after the actor and comedian’s death on New Year’s Eve, encouraging fans to donate $5 to their local animal rescues, shelters and charities. on what would have been White’s 100th birthday, January 17.

As of Tuesday morning, the Kingston Humane Society had received more than $41,000, and donations are still expected to arrive through the rest of the week.

“I have no words,” Gord Hunter, executive director of the Humane Society, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “It’s an emotional part of me, I guess, because part of it is the unexpected. I would have been thrilled with $4,000 to $5,000, and in the middle of the day (Monday) when we saw we were at $14,000, I was thinking, oh my god, we might get to $20,000, then this morning when I logged in, I saw we were at $33,700 and we’re still counting with donations always coming in. It’s all in Betty’s name.

A number of groups hoped to see an increase in donations through the challenge, posting on their social media accounts ways for people to donate $5 either through their websites, CanadaHelps.org or through e-Transfers.

Jessica Leclerc pulls a cat out of a cage at the Kingston Humane Society.
Jessica Leclerc pulls a cat out of a cage at the Kingston Humane Society. Photo by Elliot Ferguson /The Whig-Standard

“What we saw instead were people giving $25, $50, or $100,” Hunter said. “We see so many people in the culture using their fame for personal gain. I’ve never seen Betty do that. Betty White has used her fame to bring attention to animal welfare and animal rights.

He has also seen organizations, seniors’ residences and local partners donate the collections they have made in Betty’s name. Many gifts included heartfelt messages.

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“They almost all came up with ‘In Honor of Betty White’ or ‘I Love Betty White’ or ‘God Bless Betty White’ or ‘Happy 100 Birthday,'” Hunter said. “Online we had the opportunity for people to put notes and almost all of them said they were honoring Betty White or Betty White’s 100th birthday.”

The overwhelming single-day support came as a welcome shock to these groups, who have found January to be one of the toughest months for fundraising and animal care.

“(Human society) has had a bit of a hard time with COVID. We lost a lot of our public-facing events, events that the public would attend, and that started coming back last year, but then Omicron made it more difficult, so it was difficult for almost two years, and having that kind of response, that kind of unexpected windfall thanks to Betty White will help us tremendously,” Hunter said.

Kingston Animal Rescue, which helps care for dogs, cats and rabbits with special needs or medical conditions, received $5,000 in donations on Monday.

“Yesterday was really surprising, I think for everyone. It was such a global phenomenon and really just a touching tribute,” said Jessica Hellard, co-founder of Animal Rescue. fundraiser, so we are all very pleasantly surprised to have such a great response and to see such a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman.”

Spay Neuter Kingston Initiative board member Chery Gauthier said the group received more than $2,000 in donations in White’s name.

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“It was awesome and pretty overwhelming to see us — not just us, but a lot of other small organizations — getting the recognition as well,” Gauthier said. “We cannot survive without donations. COVID has taken a hit on everyone. The sentiment behind it, people loved Betty and what she stood for. Much of what she has done in her life has made life better for animals, and you know she is smiling from heaven or wherever she is. It’s really heartwarming to see, from our perspective, when it’s people who have never donated to us before, to see all these new names.

Donations will be used to help provide food for select feral cat colonies, support cats in the initiative’s foster program with medical costs, including neutering and vaccinations.

“I wish we could do something like that next year,” Gauthier said. “Five dollars a person, when a group of people do it, it makes a significant difference.”

For Sandy Pines Wildlife Center administrative director Kelly Fraser, her phone kept alerting her to donations at the center’s bank every few minutes throughout Monday.

“The feeling of actually seeing this pass was just outstanding to know that we are going to be able to continue to help these animals and make sure we have everything we need to provide them with everything they need to help them get better. and go back to their place,” Fraser said. “(See this answer) was a bit overwhelming. We have had to adapt our fundraising over the past two years to virtual as there has been no in-person fundraising. We’ve gotten a bit used to having to do everything virtually, but we’ve never seen that kind of outpouring of support.

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An injured fox kit drinks strawberry-flavored medicine from a syringe held by Dr Laura Prociuk and aided by Sandy Pines Wildlife Center director Sue Meech in June.
An injured fox kit drinks strawberry-flavored medicine from a syringe held by Dr Laura Prociuk and aided by Sandy Pines Wildlife Center director Sue Meech in June. Photo by Luke Hendry /Postmedia network

Sandy Pines received nearly $23,000 in donations on Tuesday.

“Can you imagine having that kind of reach, being so special of a person, that you could create that kind of impact across the world. It’s amazing what his legacy has done,” Fraser said. She was an animal lover and she helped so many different organizations. It wasn’t just dogs and cats, she helped with zoos and wildlife centers and everything. There wasn’t an animal she didn’t like.

“I think she struck a chord. She was so iconic and part of so many generations,” Hunter said. “I remember seeing her on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was the first time I realized who Betty White was, and then my younger sister grew up watching her on The Golden Girls, but then she became this comedy icon for millennials.”

Outside of comedy, White was known for her support and advocacy of all animal rights and welfare.

“I would love for it to become a yearly thing,” Hunter said. “What a legacy it is, even now on its 100th anniversary, but every January 17th for people to focus on local animal welfare organizations. Obviously it benefits the animals, but it’s a huge tribute and says some long on his legacy.

For smaller groups, like Happy Tales Animal Sanctuary in Harrowsmith, which received $700 in donations on Monday, the money is equivalent to a month’s worth of food for all the pets and farm animals living there.

“We were blown away (by the number of donations) and just saw them happen,” said Carla Reilly-Moore, Founder and Executive Director. “What a wonderful thing this Betty White Challenge is, especially through COVID and all.”

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The Harrowsmith area sanctuary welcomes animals who have been victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment and offers them a final home. Additionally, they work with the Canadian Armed Forces to provide post-traumatic stress disorder rehabilitation programs that allow veterans and current military personnel to work with sanctuary animals.

“The one thing that constantly comes to mind is that if what we experience as a mid-sized city in Canada is the same for all animal welfare organizations in North America, the amount raised on behalf of Betty White should be around $30 or $40 million. You almost can’t understand that kind of legacy,” Hunter said.

“We are so grateful for all that the community supports,” said Fraser. “We are lucky and grateful for all the donations and hope to be able to come back to see everyone.”

Donations can still be made via the Facebook pages of the various organizations and canadahelps.org.

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