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Minnesota’s International Owl Center raises over $100,000 to help kids in Ukraine



What do owls and the crisis in Ukraine have in common? Well, maybe more than you think. 

Every year, the International Owl Center, located in Houston, Minn., hosts an international children’s owl art contest. They receive thousands of submissions from all over the world, including hundreds from Ukraine.

These paintings have sat untouched in storage until recently, when the center decided to try and raise money to help the very children who made them.

The Owl Center partnered with the Houston Area Community Center and decided to auction off the art they had received over the years from Ukrainian children. All of the money raised will be donated to UNICEF.

The first auction took place March 16-20 with 59 pieces up for auction. Each piece had a fair market value of $20. However, the total amount raised including donations, reached $100,052.

“I would have been happy to raise $6,000 and delighted to raise $12,000.” Karla Bloem, executive director of the International Owl Center, said. “It just kept going up and up and up.”

The top three pieces were sold for almost $8,000 each.

This piece, painted by 14 year old Sofia Burevich, received the highest bid and sold for $8,005.

The center stated that they are trying to reach out to the children and schools that participated in the contest to let them know how much money has been raised from their art.

However, most of the schools are located in eastern Ukraine, which has seen a fair share of the violence, so making contact has been difficult.

“We don’t know if we’ll be able to reach them, but we will try.” said Bloem

A second auction will be held March 23rd-27th. The center says they still have over 200 pieces of art and are planning more auctions in the near future. 

“Who knew that all the wonderful kids’ owl art in our storage could wind up in loving homes where people will truly care for, and be concerned about, the individual artists. All while making a substantial sum of money to help the kids of Ukraine.” Bloem said. “It’s a win-win-win for all.”

Sam is a student at UW-La Crosse studying media communication and political science. She has lived in La Crosse for 5 years and loves everything about the community. When she’s not at school or work, you can find her outside hiking the state parks or watching Netflix with her two cats.

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