A Valentine's Day-themed fundraiser announced earlier this week for the Wildcat Glades Friends Group has turned into one of the nonprofit's most popular social media posts.

This year, people can purchase a mouse, cricket or carrot, name it after an ex and have it fed to one of the animals at Wildcat Glades.

The fundraiser, launched after a discussion between naturalist Lauren Copple and Executive Director Robin Standridge, has been well received. Since its debut late Tuesday on Facebook, Standridge said it has become the top viral humorous post made for Wildcat Glades, surpassed only by two prior crime-related messages.

“We realize not everyone has a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day,” Standridge said. “This is just a fun twist on (the holiday).”

For $5, patrons can purchase a mouse for the two snakes that call Wildcat Glades home. The nonvenomous milk snake and black snake reside at the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, which is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Other options include a $2 donation to name a cricket destined for one of the Glades' four turtles, which include two river cooters and two red-eared sliders, or a $1 donation that provides Trevor — deemed Joplin’s most famous rabbit — with a crunchy carrot treat.

Trevor and his turtle friends currently live with Standridge. They will make their permanent home at Wildcat Glades once the friends group's educational cottage is completed later this spring.

The name picked by the donor for the purchased mouse, cricket or carrot could be in (dis)honor of an ex, a rival school’s mascot or a disliked boss or teacher. Standridge said the options are endless.

“I never thought of this idea, but I think it’s pretty funny,” she said. “It’s a good way to take a negative memory and put a sweet spin on it. Besides, these critters need their food, and it’s a good way to get the community involved.”

Standridge said she plans to leave the donation link open through Sunday, allowing for donations stemming from last-minute Valentine’s Day failures. For more information or to make a donation, go to facebook.com/wildcatglades or wildcatglades.org/donate.

The friends group isn't the only nonprofit with this type of fundraiser this year.

The Central Missouri Humane Society in Columbia is offering something similar. Donors there can purchase a plastic bag and have the name of an ex or other disliked person written on it. The bag will then be used to scoop poop from the shelter animals' kennels, according to the shelter's Facebook page.

Groundbreaking

A groundbreaking ceremony for an educational cottage to be built by the Wildcat Glades Friends Group is slated for 2 p.m. Friday at Wildcat Park in Joplin.

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