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Groups paint rain barrels which will be auctioned for charity

LAWTON, Okla_They're beautiful barrels for a beautiful tomorrow. Local artists, organizations and even elementary school classes registered to be part of Lawton's first annual
"Artistic Rain Barrel Auction." The city used each entry fee to purchase the contestant a giant rain barrel, once the barrel was in their hands, they had total creative control to paint it however they wanted. Now, buildings around Lawton are decorated with these eco-friendly masterpieces.

The reason is three-fold. One, a little splash of color around town never hurt anyone, two, collecting rain is a great way to recycle water, especially during extreme drought, like we're seeing here and three, the barrels will be auctioned off in a few weeks. The money will go to the artists and many of them plan on donating that money straight to a local charity or organization.

There are barrels decorated with birds, landscapes, odes to Big Mac, tributes to famous artists and even one honoring the fire fighters that risked their lives in 9-11.

Some of the barrels were done by students, some soldiers and one, done by a famous artist. The creator of cartoon legend Strawberry Shortcake painted a barrel. It's being displayed at a local cupcake shop.

"A class from Elgin kindergarten, it has owls on it and hand prints and they're raising money for Smartboard Programs in their classroom. She painted a barrel to raise money for Osbourne Park. It's a local park in Elgin that is trying to raise money for playground equipment," City of Lawton Environmental Specialist Cynthia Williams said.

Regardless of where the money is going once the barrels are auctioned off there is one message, that we all play a role in being kind to our environment. While Williams said the idea of collecting rain water is still growing in popularity, it's crucial in a climate like ours.

"Oklahoma is still facing a drought. This is an excellent opportunity to catch the rain water off of their house and it can be used for any type of outdoor water. They can use it to wash their car, wash windows, feed the pets, water their grass, flowers, trees anything like that."

Williams said the city anticipated that about 30 folks would register to paint a barrel but they got close to 70. This was just the first year for "Beautiful Barrels for a Beautiful Tomorrow." She said it won't be the last.

The rain barrel auction is set for Saturday December 15th at City Hall at 3 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to come and bid on the eco-friendly masterpieces.

If you want to check out the barrels, they're being displayed at both the old and new city hall buildings, the library, the Great Plains Museum and various shops on "C" avenue.

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