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Betty White Challenge sparks flood of donations to Nova Scotia cat rescue

Social media campaign raises over $1,000 for Society for the Friends of Ferals

3 min read
caption A volunteer from Friends of Ferals hold white and grey kitten Madds Mikkelsen in Digby County, N.S. Madds Mikkelsen was fostered by the Society for the Friends of Ferals and then adopted out.
Submitted by Rosemary Wheelock

Through the cold winter days of January, money poured in to a cat-rescue group in Digby, N.S. as a tribute to the late cat-loving actor Betty White.

The legendary television personality died on New Year’s Eve 2021 at the age of 99. Following White’s death, a social media campaign called the #BettyWhiteChallenge sparked an outpouring of donations to animal shelters across North America, including the Digby-based Society for the Friends of Ferals.

“I think (White) would be so proud to know what her legacy has done for so many rescue groups,” said the cat rescue’s director and treasurer Rosemary Wheelock, who created a Betty White tribute page.

Cat lover Val Stackhouse was on Facebook when she learned about the #BettyWhiteChallenge, in which people are encouraged to donate five dollars to a local animal rescue in White’s name. Stackhouse, who owns a rescue cat named Jynxie, decided to donate to Friends of Ferals.

“Of course, I’m born in the early ’60s, so you know (White has) sort of been a household name since I was a kid,” Stackhouse told The Signal from her home in Smith’s Cove, N.S. “I just respected all the things she did for animals and thought what a wonderful way to honour her memory and also help our kitties.”

Friends of Ferals is a registered charity that was founded in 2002. It’s operated by volunteers who provide food, shelter, medical care and trap-neuter-release services. The group has also assisted in cases of lost, abandoned, and injured cats.

Seven feral cats on a paved concrete road.
caption A feral cat colony being fed in Digby, N.S. Volunteers from the Society for the Friends of Ferals shelter and feed feral cat colonies every day.
Submitted by Rosemary Wheelock

Friends of Ferals fostered 222 of the 281 cats and kittens it rescued in 2021. Most of the organization’s funds pay for veterinarian bills, cat food, kitty litter and the replacement of broken traps and cages.

Wheelock said she was very surprised when donations kept coming in.

“We were not expecting it at all,” she said, adding the biggest donation they received was $250 from a volunteer. “It was meant to be a five-dollar challenge, and in fact most people donated a lot more.”

Friends of Ferals kept receiving donations for the entire month of January. The total amount raised was $1,439.

Stackhouse occasionally helps to organize fundraisers for Friends of Ferals. She said the #BettyWhiteChallenge brought in some well-needed money.

“Everybody loves Betty White, so I think it just helped to bring more focus or more awareness to the shelters.”

That includes the TLC Animal Shelter, a charitable organization also based in Digby, that received donations through the #BettyWhiteChallenge. The shelter took to social media to express its gratitude.

“Thank you again for donating to our shelter in memory of Betty White. She truly was a wonderful animal loving woman and will be dearly missed,” Tabby Hicks wrote on the shelter’s Facebook page. Hicks, who runs the page, said the shelter raised $600.

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About the author

Molly MacNaughton

Molly is originally from Digby, N.S. She's in her fourth year of the BJH program. She once covered a story about a murder; a murder of crows...

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