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LEESBURG — The #BettyWhiteChallenge has gone viral, and local shelters are getting in on the buzz.
On Monday, which would have been her 100th birthday, fans are encouraged to donate to animal shelters or rescues in Betty White's honor.
White, an iconic comedic actress and lifelong animal advocate, died Dec. 31 at the age of 99.
Here in Lake County, Hoffmeyer Animal Rescue and the Lake County Animal Shelter are planning to celebrate White and raise money for local shelter pets.
More on the #BettyWhiteChallenge: The #BettyWhiteChallenge: Adopt pets, donate on Jan. 17, the day she would have turned 100
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Tanya Meyer from the Hoffmeyer Animal Rescue said she thinks the challenge is "amazing."
“I mean she was major in animal welfare," Meyer said. "I admire her greatly. I am thrilled we are doing this.”
Not only is the Hoffmeyer Animal Rescue accepting donations, they are also throwing their very own celebration in honor of Betty White.
They invited the community to a Golden Girls watch-a-thon and Golden Girls themed Monopoly and trivia at their center and served cakes, pies, and cookies from a local bakery.
The event will be held Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at 296 Silverado Street.
“And all the kitties are going to be getting special kitty cupcakes," Meyer said. "I hope Betty White lovers come and enjoy the day with the animals and the Golden Girls."
Whitney Boylston, director of Lake County Office of Animal Services, told the Daily Commercial the shelter was "blown away by the viral nature of this challenge."
“And it is such a fitting tribute to a friend of animals and an amazing way to honor her memory,” she wrote in an email.
The Lake County Office of Animal Services is accepting donations online at https://payments.lakecountyfl.gov/animal-shelter-donation/secure/checkout, in person at the shelter, or by mail to 12280 CR 448, Tavares, FL 32778.
Betty White’s legacy
White was known as an avid animal lover and worked throughout her career to protect endangered species and improve conditions at the Los Angeles Zoo.
She started working at the zoo in the 1960s to help improve the conditions of the enclosures. She served on the zoo’s board for more than 50 years and helped bring in state-of-the-art exhibits.
White even published a book on her endeavors at the zoo in 2011: "Betty & Friends: My Life At the Zoo."
She also hosted TV animal-focused specials including “Big Cat Week,” “Hero Dog Awards,” and “Betty White Goes Wild.”
But she was also passionate about supporting local shelters.
Betty bought attention and financial support to numerous animal rights charities, such as PAWS/LA and Morris Animal Foundation.
She volunteered for and served on the board of American Humane, which was the first national humane organization in the U.S. and largest certifier of animal welfare in the world.
Her fan club Bets' Pets even donated their dues to animal rescue charities.
What your local donations support
All of the money collected for the #BettyWhiteChallenge locally will go to supporting homeless pets and giving them the safety, support, and medical attention they need.
Boylston says most of the donations to animal services help support enrichment programs. This may include toys, treats, scents, and music or other comfort items, all intended to make a pet’s stay in the shelter more enjoyable. The shelter also uses donations to fund its foster program, which helps hundreds of kittens each year.
Meyer says most of the donations made at the Hoffmeyer Animal Rescue will go toward medical expenses, especially for animals who need extreme care.
“In addition to spay and neuter, we take care of hospice, hit by a car, limbs that need to be removed, eyes that need to be removed, we take as many of the medical cases as possible,” she said.
Can't donate? Consider volunteering
As helpful as financial support can be, Meyer emphasizes that it's not always feasible for people to give. But there are other ways to support local animal shelters.
She suggests volunteering.
“We love their help even if it’s just to curl up on the couch and watch a Netflix movie and let the kitties hang out with them," Meyer said. "It’s awesome when they get to feel like they’re in a house at our adoption center."
“The smallest amount helps – time, a can of food, a dollar, it literally does. It adds up and it helps.”
This article originally appeared on Daily Commercial: Lake animal shelters, rescues participate in #BettyWhiteChallenge