Betty White was a beloved actress, comedian, and well-known animal advocate. On Monday (January 17), fans are honoring the late icon by donating to local animal shelters in her honor.
White died on New Years Eve at age 99, just a few weeks before her centennial celebration. “Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” White's close friend and agent Jeff Witjas previously confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE. “I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much...”
Her love for the animal world inspired the Betty White Challenge, which quickly trended on social media on White’s 100th birthday. CBS News pointed out that Twitter user Lisa Powell previously wrote, in response to Ryan Reynolds’ reaction to his former costar’s death, that fans should “donate something to your local animal shelter on Betty's birthday on January 17th in her honor! It's the least we can do to still celebrate & honor Betty's love of animals!! #RIPBetty #BettyWhite #ripbettywhite #BettyWhiteChallenge#BettyWhiteDay.” Though it isn’t clear whether the challenge stems from Powell’s tweet or from someone else, the idea caught on.
Many fans reportedly contributing $5 to organizations that help animals. Some celebrities are also taking part in the Betty White Challenge, including country music giant Trisha Yearwood. Yearwood recently told PEOPLE: “Everybody loves Betty White. I've been reading about the influx of donations to pet charities and shelters across the nation since Betty's passing, and I think she is up there smiling so big that this is how the world is showing her how much we love her. I'm excited to be a part of the Betty White Challenge to help shine a light on the great work that rescues, and shelters do, many with only volunteers and private donations of food, bedding, and time.”
CNN noted that anyone interested in donating can also contribute to the Betty White Wildlife Fund, which she founded in 2010. The news outlet also noted other ways to remember White and her legendary life and legacy, including: head to a local movie theater to watch Betty White: A Celebration, embark on “Betty’s L.A. Zoo Tour,” watch Hallmark’s Honoring Betty White, and relive her best Saturday Night Live moments.
White told Entertainment Tonight in 2015: “I just like animals more than I like people. It’s that simple”