Drawings and paintings of owls entered in a Minnesota-based art contest by kids in Ukraine over the past two decades are now being auctioned off to help that embattled country.

The International Owl Center in Houston, Minn., has collected a trove of art from kids around the world — including Ukrainian children — who’ve entered its annual owl art contest since it started in 2004.

Executive director Karla Bloem said that after Russia invaded Ukraine, “I posted some photos of pictures that children in Ukraine had made on our Facebook page and our e-newsletter, and there was an overwhelming response of people that said, ‘Can we buy this? Is it for sale?’ They wanted to be connected in a very tangible way to what was going on over there.”

The center partnered with the Houston Area Community Foundation to open an initial online auction of 60 works — bidding runs through Sunday. Bloem said the money raised will go to UNICEF to help Ukrainian children affected by the Russian invasion.

“We wanted it to help children in Ukraine because this art was created by children in Ukraine,” Bloem said.

She said bidding on the various works of art had exceeded $6,000 in less than 12 hours after the auction opened Wednesday. You can find the auction here. More auctions are planned after the initial one is done.

The artwork was submitted over the years in the contest that’s part of the center’s annual International Festival of Owls, scheduled for April 30-May 1 this year.

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