23 March 2022
When Karla Bloem decided to auction the International Owl Center’s collection of Ukrainian kids’ owl drawings to benefit UNICEF’s work in Ukraine, she hoped to raise a few thousand dollars.
Instead, the online auction of 59 children’s art, which closed Sunday, raised more than $100,000, said Bloem, executive director of the center in Houston, Minn. One piece sold for more than $8,000.
“I am utterly blown away by the interest and generosity of everyone who participated,” she said.
The Ukrainian artwork is among the thousands of renditions of owls created by kids around the world that the center has accumulated through its annual International Kids’ Owl Art Contest. Once submitted, the winning mailed-in owls are celebrated during the center’s springtime International Festival of Owls and end up in greeting cards, on T-shirts and in benefit auctions.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bloem decided to have a special auction to benefit Ukrainian children. After the first effort’s success, the owl center decided to continue auctioning more of the several hundred owls created by Ukrainian kids that remain in its collection, launching a second round Wednesday (at one.bidpal.net/ukrart4ukrkids/welcome).
The center will likely have at least two more auctions and make a set of greeting cards featuring some of the owl art, Bloem said.
“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, while making a substantial sum of money to help the kids in Ukraine?” she said.
All of the funds raised will be donated to UNICEF. Owl center staffers plan to try to contact the Ukrainian art schools and children who mailed in their artwork to let them know about the fundraising, Bloem said.
“Most art schools that participated are in eastern Ukraine, so we don’t know if we’ll be able to reach them,” she said, “but we will try.”