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Betty White Would Be 'So Touched' to See Animal Shelter Donations in Honor of Her 100th Birthday

·2-min read
Betty White Would Be 'So Touched' to See Animal Shelter Donations in Honor of Her 100th Birthday

Though Betty White didn't live to see her 100th birthday, her memory is living on today as people worldwide donate to their favorite animal charities in her honor.

The #BettyWhiteChallenge picked up steam on social media following the TV legend's death at age 99 on Dec. 31, calling on fans to give $5 to shelters, rescues and other organizations on what would have been White's 100th birthday, Jan. 17.

According to a rep for GoFundMe, animal-specific fundraisers and donations to animal-related fundraisers have been up in the two weeks since White's death, with other organizations seeing the same change.

"The outpouring of love, the amazing amount of donations being given to all types of animal organizations is such a tribute to how Betty lived her life," her friend and longtime agent Jeff Witjas tells PEOPLE. "As Betty would say, 'Thank you from the bottom of my heart.' "

RELATED: 'Her Legacy Will Have a Lasting Impact': Animal Groups Remember Betty White's Lifelong Support

Outside of TV and family, White's passion was for animals. The actress, who rescued several dogs in her lifetime, started working with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association in 1966 and joined the board of trustees in 1974.

Betty white
Betty white

Angela Weiss/Getty

In 2006, Betty was honored as the City of Los Angeles' "Ambassador to the Animals" for her lifelong work for animal welfare. Eleven years later, in 2017, White received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for her "commitment to wildlife and efforts to create a sustainable planet," specifically through her charitable work with zoos and animal rescues.

RELATED: Trisha Yearwood 'Excited' to Raise Funds for Rescue Pets Through the Betty White Challenge

She supported animals through her fan club, Bets' Pets, which donated its dues to animal rescue charities. The Hot in Cleveland actress often supported fundraisers for animal welfare organizations like the Morris Animal Foundation and American Humane. Following her death, the Audobon Nature Institute shared a story about how she paid for a plane to relocate zoo and aquarium penguins and sea otters from New Orleans to California following Hurricane Katrina. "She did not ask for fanfare," the organization wrote on Twitter, "she just wanted to help."

And help the #BettyWhiteChallenge will. "She would love that so much," her executive personal assistant Kiersten Mikelas tells PEOPLE. "She would be so touched to see and hear that people were honoring her by donating to local groups who work so hard to rescue and rehabilitate animals. I can't think of a better tribute."

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