Mascara wand-raising campaign is viral make-up call for wildlife group

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

One year after an eye-opening social media post, a local non-profit is still getting a flood of donations from around the world. Appalachian Wild drew attention to mascara wands as a simple tool to clean the fur of squirrels and other critters.

"What I'm surrounded by is an outpouring of love and generosity," said co-founder Kimberly Brewster, standing in the middle of a sea of mail.

Even for an organization that specializes in wildlife, getting seven carts of mail delivered recently was pretty wild.

"There's more," said Wild. "We're clearing out the post office."

"Ok, don't cry don't cry," she told herself. "I can't even talk. Last year when this first started I cried."

In March of 2017, fellow founder Savannah Trantham posted about the magic of mascara wands, explaining how animal rehabilitators like herself use them.

"We would simply run that through," she said, demonstrating on a squirrel. "And all the bristles and teeth of the brush are gonna catch fly eggs or the larva without causing any damage to the fur."

That post was instantly shared some 37 thousand times, which sure seemed like plenty then. Appalachian Wild, which is opening a triage center in Candler, got donations from every state and across the globe.

"We've gotten 36 thousand recycled wands that would have just gone into the landfill," Brewster said.

They've also gotten 139 thousand brand new wands. Last month, the campaign went viral again with a video post on that got 22 million views. Folks sent more makeup accessories and also bought wish list items for the new Appalachian Wild facility.

"It's like somebody's birthday," Brewster said, prying open a box. "So this is a heat lamp. This will go in the reptile and amphibian room."

"These are fleece blankets," she said, cracking open another package. "This is the power of social media!"

For a startup especially, all this mail seems heaven sent.

"To help our native wildlife here in Western North Carolina, it means that we are creating empathy in the world," Brewster said. "What better thing could possibly happen?"

It might seem like the new non-profit waved a wand to get all this stuff, but it's generous strangers who made the magic happen.

For more information on Wands for Wildlife, click here.

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