A non-profit in Mission that takes care of senior animals and animals with special needs has received nearly $40,000 in donations from the #BettyWhiteChallenge.
Senior Animals In Need Today Society (SAINTS) has around 100 animals, many with complex needs, and survives with the help of dozens of volunteers. The multi-species sanctuary takes in animals that are either too difficult or expensive for people to care for, and allows them to live comfortably.
“I just was astounded by the amount of people that donated,” said Sheila Kullar, a volunteer in charge of social media and fundraising. “January to May are our slowest months, and we usually struggle.”
Betty White, the 99-year old actress, comedian, and animal advocate died on Dec. 31. The #BettyWhiteChallenge went viral soon afterwards, encouraging donations to local animal shelters until Jan. 17.
SAINTS has received a total of $36,907 from over 835 donors, but this is only counting donations through their website and CanadaHelps.ca. Kullar said they still have not counted e-transfers or donations by check.
“I looked online on our website today, and we’re still receiving donations,” Kullar. “I just looked a half hour ago, and there’s about $800 there (today).”
She said the shelter is typically forced to live off their December donations for months.
For comparison: on a normal January day, they’re lucky to get $300 in donations, and if they start a donation campaign for an animal with a big medical bill, they usually get 200 to 300 donors in total, according to Kullar.
She said on Giving Tuesday, a huge day for non-profits that occurs following Black Friday, the shelter received around $14,000.
She said what’s impressive about this month’s donations, is most are small one-time donations ranging from $5 to $100.
Kullar said she wants to thank members of a neighbourhood Facebook page, Mission BC & Neighbours, for encouraging others to donate directly through their website.
“I’d just like to thank those people. It’s just so heartwarming to the volunteers and the staff that we have such community support,” she said. “I never expected this.”
She said that all animal advocates know of Betty White’s work, and now that commitment is having a lasting impact.