Forsyth County animal shelters collected more than $60,000 and hundreds of items in donations this past week thanks to area residents taking part in the #BettyWhiteChallenge.
The social media challenge began shortly after Betty White’s passing on New Year’s Eve before the start of 2022. Knowing her love for animals, those participating across the nation pledged to donate at least $5 to their local animal shelters on Monday, Jan. 17 — what would have been White’s 100th birthday.
“We are overwhelmed and overjoyed at the response the #BettyWhiteChallenge has had,” said Amanda Porter, the fundraising director at the Humane Society of Forsyth County, a no-kill animal shelter in the county. “Shelters like ours depend on donations from individuals and local businesses in order to continue operating.”
Porter said the Humane Society received more than $13,000 in donations to help support its shelter. The money will help the nonprofit to continue its mission in saving homeless cats and dogs, reducing pet overpopulation, and teaching responsible pet ownership in Forsyth County and surrounding communities.
With the community’s help, the shelter will be able to continue and grow programs such as its Low Cost Clinic, offering low-cost vaccines and vet services to pet owners; the Pet Food Pantry, which helps feed the pets of families in need; the Spay/Neuter Assistance Program; and more.
“This community has always shown great support to HSFC, however, the people of Forsyth County really stepped it up for this challenge,” Porter said.
The shelter received donations throughout the week, including hundreds of items such as pet toys, food, towels and other items.
Local businesses even stepped in to help pull together extra donations to help support local shelters outside of the individual $5 donations made in honor of White.
Ginger Pigg, owner of The Perfect Pigg, a gift shop located off Little Mill Road in Cumming, stepped up the week before Jan. 17, to hold an item drive for the Humane Society of Forsyth County.
She asked each of her customers to bring in much-needed items that could be of use to the shelter this year, knowing that nonprofits across the county have struggled to maintain their donations and services since the beginning of the pandemic.
By the end of the week, Pigg said they were able to drop off four large boxes and a large bag at the shelter stuffed with items such as sheets, blankets, pet food, paper towels, Ziploc bags, gift cards and more.
“I think everybody just wanted to help and do what they could,” Pigg said. “We live in an amazing community where people are always trying, it seems like, to help someone.”
A local online business owner and artist, Katy McGill, also put an extra foot forward to try to help raise money, putting an original watercolor painting she created of Betty White as Rose from the show, “Golden Girls,” up for auction on her Instagram page.
She left the auction up for a couple of weeks, promising to donate 100% of the highest bid on the painting to the Humane Society of Forsyth County. By White’s 100th birthday, she had sold the painting for $300.
“We here at HSFC would like to send a massive thank you to the people of Forsyth County for their continued support and for honoring such an extraordinary woman,” Porter said. “Betty's legacy will not be forgotten. Through her activism, she touched the lives of so many people and animals and will continue to do so for a long time.”
Leaders and volunteers at Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelters, another nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter in the county, were also reminded of White’s impact on the world this week as they received thousands of donations from area residents.
Samantha Shelton, the CEO and founder, said they raised more than $50,000 just in the last week, and they expect even more donations to come in honor of White.
“We are speechless with the outpouring of love and support for animals in our community by Betty's fans all over Forsyth and beyond,” Shelton said.
“Betty White was a lovely human being and these donations and the love shown by her fans is a testament to the life she lived and the big voice she had for the voiceless in our society,” she continued. “We are humbled by the outpouring of support that will allow us to save lives throughout this year in memory of this special friend to animals.”
Shelton said Furkids will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year, and she could not think of a better way to celebrate and start out the year than by honoring White and the powerful legacy she leaves behind.
The Forsyth County Animal Shelter, run by the county, was not open on Jan. 17, and did not receive many donations. Leaders with the shelter said visitors are currently only allowed into the shelter by appointment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has limited the number of donations coming in overall.
Those looking to still give a donation, however, can do so by calling the shelter at 678-965-7185.