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In the Spotlight: Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

23rd December 2013
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In early January, the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy) will hold its annual grand finale. This year’s edition will take place on January 12.

Courtesy of WOŚP/Łukasz Giersz

Thousands of volunteers will collect contributions from people all over Poland, as well as around the world, in what will be the 22nd edition of the country’s biggest charity drive. For the second straight year, it will raise money for both pediatric wards and medical care for the elderly.

The event includes a day-long media marathon, celebrity auctions and concerts, in the process managing to raise millions to help those in need. The last two editions brought in over $16 million each. According to its organizers, the drive is one of the most effective operations of its kind in the world. It was ranked first in the latest Brand Asset Valuator list of Poland’s strongest brands.

One of the traditions of the charity is an auction of gold-plated, numbered, heart-shaped medallions. The one with number 1 is usually bought after a heated auction, with many companies, organizations and businesspeople participating.

The first event was held in 1993, when Jerzy Owsiak, who had his own TV and radio shows, decided to raise money for the Children’s Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw. He gathered his friends, co-workers and celebrities and organized a day-long charity drive.

The event was a success, with some $1.5 million being raised, helping to buy equipment not only for the institute, but for 10 other hospitals. This encouraged Mr Owsiak and his foundation to carry on with the project and hold such drives annually.

Jacek Ciesnowski

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