(WGHP) — A viral post circulating around social media has inspired folks to honor the legacy of American icon Betty White by supporting one of her favorite causes: animals.

“Golden Girls” star Betty White passed away on New Year’s Eve 2021, a little over two weeks shy of her 100th birthday.

Perhaps inspired by her incomparable spirit, people are turning their mourning for this legend and trailblazer into something positive they can do for their communities and the furry friends that Betty loved so much.

So what is the #BettyWhiteChallenge?

The #BettyWhiteChallenge encourages people to donate to their local animal shelters or rescues on Betty’s 100th birthday, Jan. 17, in her name. Even if it’s only a few dollars, any help that someone can offer to animals in need is in the spirit of the day.

The challenge originated with a graphic on Twitter and Facebook and seemed to gain a lot of steam after it was shared by former Charlotte Hornet player Rex Chapman.

“On Betty White’s 100th birthday, January 17th, everyone should pick a local rescue or animal shelter in your area and donate just $5 in Betty White’s name. Make her 100th birthday the movement she deserves,” the post said.

Reaching out to our Pet of the Week network of shelters and rescues, FOX8 asked what impact they’ve seen or would like to see from this inspiring social media challenge.

Unsurprisingly, our local rescues love the idea as much as we do.

“It seems like a great way to honor a beloved figure in our society and do something good for the community,” Red Dog Farm wrote.

“Betty White spent the majority of her life as an active animal advocate, with a deep concern for all living creatures. The Betty White Challenge set to take place on the date of what would have been her 100th birthday is a wonderful way to pay tribute to her amazing life as well as help animals in need in our own communities,” Happy Hills Animal Foundation said.

“It is an amazing and inspiring movement. It is a beautiful and organic movement by those who wish to honor her and shows how much of an impact she had both through her work as an actor and as an animal advocate,” representatives from Guilford County Animal Services wrote.

What can you donate?

While the challenge specifically encourages monetary donations, no matter how small, there is always more you can do if that doesn’t seem like enough.

Red Dog Farm has begun encouraging the donation of gift cards due to the flexibility it can give for evolving needs. They can always use shavings and paper bedding and, of course, food and toys are always welcome for the menagerie of animals at their facilities. (Maybe something special for our favorite little escape artist…?)

Happy Hills Animal Foundation says that while monetary donations are always needed and welcomed, they can always use dog and cat food, fleece blankets, pine-based cat litter and cleaning supplies such as trash bags, bleach, paper towels and brooms.

Guilford County Animal Services has a wishlist that potential donors can peruse to find out their needs and their accepted items, which range from Kong toys and peanut butter to towels and blankets.

Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation of Wintson-Salem says that while they have a wishlist on their website and could always use puppy pads, bedding and toys, they believe the best gift to any shelter or rescue organization is to make sure that your own pets are spayed, neutered and well cared for. They also emphasize the importance of having arrangements in place for your pets if something happens to you.

Triad Golden Retriever Rescue says that in addition to monetary needs, their biggest need is always people willing to foster dogs to help them find homes. If you would be interested in fostering for TGRR, you can visit their website.

Just as a side note, Betty White was an avid lover of Golden Retrievers.

“Once someone has had the good fortune to share a true love affair with a Golden Retriever, one’s life and one’s outlook is never quite the same.”

Betty White

So how can you donate?

Red Dog Farm has a page on their website to tell you how to donate. But they say that even something as simple as sharing a post to social media can have an impact if you’re unable to donate!

Find out how to donate to Happy Hills Animal Foundation.

Guilford County Animal Services has a donation page that includes their Amazon wishlist.

You can donate to Triad Golden Retriever Rescue here.

You can find out how to donate to AARFWS here. They also ask that if you’re able, to consider scheduling a recurring gift, as it really does make a difference during times of the year when need outpaces donations.

Has there been an impact yet?

Many rescues and shelters have already heard from people who are inspired by the challenge, saying that it seems to really be resonating with people in a big way. Both AARFWS and Triad Golden Retriever Rescue have already had donations in Betty’s name.

Our local rescues and shelters are happy to see interest building in supporting their animals and programs in honor of a legend.

Rather than soliciting donations, Guilford County Animal Services is running an adoption special for the weekend of Betty White’s 100th birthday. From Jan. 17-23, they are reducing their adoption fee to $17 for all pets at their facility to honor Betty’s memory.

We are inspired by all those who Betty White touched and would like to thank anyone who comes out to adopt or donates in her honor. If you are adopting a pet in her honor, please realize a pet is a long term commitment and be sure you’re ready for a new pet. For Betty White to have such an impact on not just America, but the world, speaks volumes about her life and work. She will be missed by everyone, but especially by those of us in the animal welfare industry. 

Guilford County Animal Services

Burlington Animal Services is also running an adoption special from Jan. 8-22, with their adoption fee reduced to $20.

2021 was a challenging year for almost everyone, and that is true of animal rescuers as well. The outpouring of support to honor Betty White is a way for the community to recognize the hard work our animal-loving neighbors have put in this year amid a surging pandemic, supply chain issues and financial insecurities.

“The demand on rescues and shelters has certainly increased in the past 12 months and doesn’t appear to be letting up.  We experienced a 20% increase on demand for our program in 2021 alone.  One donor is considering a matching challenge as well,” Red Dog Farm tells us.

“We are so grateful people are thinking of us while honoring Betty. Thank you all so much and we know she would have loved the challenge! It is an amazing way to honor her life and legacy. She truly was gone too soon at 99,” Guilford County Animal Services writes.

White once told the Associated Press that she loved “anything with a leg on each corner.” But don’t worry, she still has love for her legless friends too.

“Ohhh, I LOVE snakes!”