Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Second owl art auction benefiting Ukrainian kids closes Sunday March 25, 2022

Promo for the second “Ukrainian Art for Ukrainian Kids” auction. The art featured here was created, left to right, by Marina, 17; Liliia, 8; Oleksandra, 12; and Mudraya, 8. (Source: International Owl Center Facebook page)

THEY ARE THE CHILDREN of Ukraine: Zvereva, Marina, Andrii, Oleg, Liliia, Muras, Ekaterina, Maxim, Oleksandra, Miroslava, Yulia, Mudraya, Vira, Kamila, Dmytrus…and so many others.

These names we know because they are among 59 youth whose art is being auctioned off by the International Owl Center in Houston. That Minnesota-based nonprofit is hosting its second “Ukrainian Art for Ukrainian Kids” online auction to benefit UNICEF. All monies directed to that United Nations organization will go directly to Ukrainian children.

Bidding for the art submitted through the years to the annual International Kids’ Owl Art Contest opened on Wednesday and closes at 8 pm (CST) Sunday, March 27. The 12×16-inch pieces of original artwork created by youth ages 4 to 17 range from imaginatively colorful to realistic renditions of owls.

Additionally, the Owl Center is creating a limited number of reproductions with 25 limited edition prints from each of three artists available for $100/each. All 75 of those prints have sold out. (Sorry.)

The center is also planning to print a set of 20 blank greeting cards from selected Ukrainian owl art with those sale proceeds going to UNICEF, too. (I’ll keep you informed.)

In the first online art auction, winning bids spanned $425-$8,005. That auction, plus separate donations, yielded $100,152 for UNICEF. That’s a remarkable result for this small town Owl Center which determined it wanted, and had a way, to help Ukrainian youth.

A third auction will conclude the series. (I’ll let you know when that launches.)

I feel such gratitude to the Owl Center; to the community of Houston, Minnesota, population 1,000; and to the generous bidders and donors. But I am especially grateful to those young Ukrainian artists for creating owl art which is now helping their peers, or perhaps even themselves. That’s the hard part, the wondering whether these children/pre-teens/teens are safe, OK, coping…as they deal with the realities and traumas of war.


FYI: To reach the online auction, click here. To reach the Owl Center Facebook page, click here. The Facebook page includes a map of Ukraine marking the places where these young artists lived when they submitted their owl art to the International Owl Center.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Second owl art auction benefiting Ukrainian kids closes Sunday”

  1. beth Says:


  2. Valerie Says:

    Another great selection of owl artwork up for bid, with money going to an important cause.

  3. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    This is one of those stories that needs to be at the end of the national news broadcast when they feature a heartwarming story that impacts a person, community or the world for the greater good. Thanks for spreading the news about the remarkable Owl organization and people of Houston, MN. So proud of them.

    • Bernadette, I had the same thought several evenings ago as I watched the evening news. How do we tip them off to this great story? I’m happy to do my small part in spreading the word. And, yes, I also am proud of the International Owl Center and the good people of Houston, Minnesota.

      • Bernadette Hondl Thomasy Says:

        Not sure how to get them this tip, but perhaps starting with a local or Minneapolis tv station, someone who does features/human interest stories. Your posts are the perfect introduction.

      • Bernadette, this owl art auction has been widely-covered by regional (MN, WI and IA) media and by Twin Cities media, including KARE 11, MPR and the Trib. I’m really surprised the national media has not picked up this story.

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