Games came together this Halloween for the team at West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.
Twitch It is an interactive live streaming platform where users can stream their own video games, talk shows, music, and e-sports competitions.
Straus and his wife, Kelsey Straus, have fostered two kittens from the Washougal shelter for a little over a year, so the idea of using the toys to give back to the local shelter in his community seemed like an easy decision, Jake Straus said.
While the player has previously used his platform to raise money for other organizations, this particular contribution is the largest for him and the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.
“It feels very encouraging to have so many people watching me, but it brings a whole new layer when we do something like this fundraiser,” Straus said. “We take what we already do on a daily basis, which is supporting each other and trying to make each other happy, and adding a whole layer of meaning.”
Founded in 1994, the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society dedicates its services and programs to supporting animals in need from its community. CEO Michelle Simeone called the unexpected success “Games for Good.” She and other team members expressed shock and gratitude at the results of the fundraiser.
Most third-party fundraisers typically bring in a few thousand dollars, making Straus’s livestream donation the largest ever by a third party, said Simeone and Peggy DiPrima, director of development.
“We were both blown away because we had no idea what Twitch was,” Simeone said. We always wanted to know how to tap into the younger generations, and then this happened. “The generosity and ease with which Jake made this happen was incredible.”
Gaming meets giving
Strauss grew up playing Nintendo with his brother and father, but it wasn’t until he was in college that things started getting into the gaming world. He learned about Twitch from a friend and decided to try it in 2015. In the nine years since Straus started streaming, he has gained more than 531,000 followers.
“My senior year in college, I started streaming on Twitch purely as a hobby,” Strauss said. “I started streaming more and more organically, and the viewership started to increase and it just kind of snowballed.”
Strauss said he and his wife have always been animal lovers, caring for two dogs, a rabbit and two kittens.
Prior to his final broadcast, Strauss hosted two successful livestream fundraisers, raising $38,000 and $45,000 on two separate occasions.
Strauss said supporting the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society was another opportunity to use his platform for positive change in the animal community. Straus said he found through gaming a strong sense of community, and this fundraiser was just one example of what they can do.
“It brings attention to the idea that the gaming community, which may not necessarily have the best image, is doing really incredible, powerful things,” Strauss said. “It feels really good to not only do these things, but also enlighten others about what the gaming community is capable of.”
Simeone said the donation will help pay for high veterinary costs, while continuing to support animals in need.
“We have recently had several animals come to us with the disease and needing special procedures/surgeries,” she explained. “These cases cannot be managed in-house or with a general vet, so we must send these animals to specialists or to emergency veterinarians.”
To adopt a pet, make a donation or volunteer at the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, visit https://wcghs.org/.
“Unapologetic analyst. Infuriatingly humble coffee evangelist. Gamer. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Student. Entrepreneur.”