Houston International Owl Center helps raise $100,000 to help Ukraine

(ABC 6 NEWS) – People around the world are coming together to show their support for Ukraine.

Now a business in the small southeastern Minnesota city, Houston, is doing what they can by selling unique art created by the kids of Ukraine themselves.

"So Karla, I have to ask, over $100,000 got raised for this event, what is going through your mind right now?"

"I’m rarely speechless, but, I’m kind of speechless. I don’t know what to say," Karla Bloem, executive director of the International Owl Center said.

Over $100,000 was raised at the auction. Just let that sink in! 59 pieces of artwork were auctioned off.

"You know when things broke out in Ukraine, I thought we have artwork from Ukraine, let’s see what we have," Bloem said.

And just like that, the planning started.

"Several people said can we buy that art? It’s just such a tangible way to connect with a child over there," Bloem said.

The International Owl Center hosts an event called the International Festival of Owls every year, and each year they get children’s artwork from around the globe part of the International Children’s Owl Art Contest.

"It’s the kids art that is benefitting the kids themselves," Bloem said.

Each piece of artwork is coming from children in Ukraine.

"One went for $8,005 just for this one piece. Sophia was 14 years old at the time when she made this, and it was entered in our 2021 contest. I mean, you have to wonder, where is she now? Is she okay? That’s how it is with every single artist because these are kids in Ukraine," Bloem said.

Other artwork that hit the jackpot was one created by a 15-year-old girl named Anna. It sold for over $7,600.

"It feels really good to do something that’s meaningful. Everyone wants to help, but what can you do?" Bloem said.

The answer? To be the difference you want to see in the world.

"I think the sky’s the limit," Bloem said.

And it’s true — this artwork is connecting with people here.

All of the money raised at the auction is going to UNICEF to go toward humanitarian aid in Ukraine. If you’d like to bid on a piece of art, there’s a second auction starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.