PEEPS be with you

Local congregation raises money with a classic sweet treat

Evelyn Tapoleai’s, 12, entry is pictured.

MARQUETTE — Give Peeps a Chance art challenge fundraiser, hosted by the Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation, took place Friday afternoon in the Peter White Public Library’s Community Room.

“We wanted something catchy and we wanted it to be Peeps,” Jamie Kuehnl, event organizer, said. “The U.U. church is very connected to social justice issues and actions, so ‘giving peace a chance’ and ‘giving Peeps a chance’ was too perfect not to exploit.”

Contestants were challenged to incorporate the marshmallow treats into works of art that use the theme of social justice and peace. There were prize winners in each age category of under 5, 6-10, 11-17 and 18 and older.

“There was a really good reception once we started handing out posters just about making marshmallow peep artwork. People really liked something about that,” Kuehnl said.

All proceeds from the event entrance fees and the silent auction will be going toward Youthaiti — a group dedicated to helping Haitian youth develop environmental projects in sanitation, water source protection, community gardening and reforestation in their communities — and a trip the church is planning on taking next year to volunteer through the organization.

Attendee Kees Gray, 20, and his mother had traveled to Haiti to volunteer with a similar organization when he was 14 years old. The pair brought medical supplies to mountain towns and rural areas after a recent earthquake. Gray said the experience was memorable and beneficial.

“It was my first time being in a third-world country,” Gray said. “There is definitely that culture shock and that realization of what a whole different society is like that doesn’t have first-world privileges.”

Gray hopes to go to Haiti again with the U.U. church if the trip works with his college class schedule.

“This trip is going to be looking at the inner city of Haiti, Port Au Prince — the capital of Haiti — providing educational tools, help to kids, things like that,” Gray explained.

Gretchen McKenzie and Dylan Trost of the band Stan Berry provided music for the evening.

Kuehnl and other event organizers hope that Give Peeps a Chance becomes an annual event, fundraising again for Youthaiti as well as local causes and organizations. For more information on the Youthaiti trip or the U.U., call 906-362-2082 or visit MQTUU.ORG.

Corey Kelly can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is