The late Betty White's lifelong love for animals spurred the "Betty White Challenge," in which citizens were encouraged to donate to their local animal shelter.
Lovers of White and animals took the challenge to heart in Bucks County.
The Bucks County SPCA has taken in thousands of dollars from well-wishers, funds that will go toward fulfilling its local mission. The challenge was centered around giving on Jan. 17, which would have been White's 100th birthday. She died Dec. 31 at her California home.
"As of this moment, we have passed the $25,000 mark, and that's from 703 individual donations and counting," said Bucks County SPCA Spokesperson Cindy Kelly on Tuesday. "We are jumping up and down with excitement, as is every other animal shelter here and across the world, because this is a real shot in the arm for nonprofits like us.
"It has been a tremendous response through every channel; we have a pretty engaged community on social media, and a lot of donations have come through Facebook, Instagram and our website."
Since the first week of 2022, the #BettyWhiteChallenge has become a trending hashtag throughout social media. The challenge is simple: donate to any local or national animal shelter, rescue or agency in White's name.
Bucks County SPCA operates locations in New Hope and Quakertown.
Kelly said White's mission and the challenge resonated with many individuals, including those that may not be pet owners nor ever stepped foot inside an animal shelter.
"We've had people just drop into the shelter and hand us a check, and some of these people have never been to a shelter or never adopted a pet, but the challenge was to donate to a local shelter," Kelly said. "People are walking in with donations, and it is so encouraging that people are excited about giving and they show their joy and enthusiasm by writing little notes on how much they think of Betty White and want to celebrate her."
The Betty White Challenge not withstanding, Kelly said the average donation-cost pales in comparison to the funds and resources required to care for sheltered animals.
"When someone adopts from our shelter, they are getting a good deal," Kelly said, noting that last year, the Bucks County SPCA took in 2,765 animals. "The adoption donation for an adult dog is $300, a kitten is $100 and a cat is $50. But that doesn't begin to cover the cost of getting an animal ready for adoption.
"Maybe they need vaccinations, or maybe they have been with us for a while and need medication attention," Kelly added. "Then you add in food, the staff that clean the cages and walk the animals, and the light and heat...We put hundreds of dollars into each animal, and sometimes, thousands of dollars, and the adoption fee is just a fraction of that."
Kelly also cleared up a public misconception about the SPCA. The local chapters receive no funding from the national SPCA, which means these donations are needed that much more.
"Animal shelters are independent nonprofits that aren't linked or funded by the national organization, so when people give to the National SPCA, that money doesn't filter down to the local SPCA," Kelly said. "We spent a lot of time educating the community on that, which is why were so excited about the Betty White Challenge.
"By doing that, people are giving a second chance to animals in their own community and in their own neighborhood."
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: #BettyWhiteChallenge nets Bucks County SPCA, shelters attention, funding