Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity
Let the Orchestra play!
The first or second Sunday in January is when the Grand Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy, WOŚP) takes place. What is it all about?
WOŚP is one of the biggest non-governmental charity organizations in Poland, founded in 1993 to provide medical equipment to public hospitals in order to protect health and save children’s lives. For the last three years it has also been collecting money to provide better healthcare for the elderly.
The charity helps little patients by providing specialist children’s hospitals with expensive state-of-the-art equipment, thanks to which children from all over Poland can be diagnosed and treated. It helps save lives, especially when it comes to premature babies.
The Grand Finale is an extraordinary event. Charity concerts and a lot of other attractions are organized in numerous cities in Poland by volunteers and WOŚP itself. Everybody can take part, everybody can help. It is a nationwide, all-day-long event full of surprises.
Lots of volunteers wander through the streets, collect money from people and give them heart-shaped stickers as a ‘thank you’ gift. People stick them on their jackets, handbags, backpacks – they are simply proud to have contributed. The atmosphere in Poland is very special on this day. But Collection Centers are not only based in Poland – they can also be found in other places around the globe, whereever there’s a Polish community.
Every year, about 120 thousand volunteers collect money. It is a social phenomenon, because all of them settle accounts with the Orchestra meticulously. The Grand Finale is very special, because it unites people and shows them that charity can also be fun. The culminative point of the event is the so called ‘light to heaven’, which traditionally was a short, breathtaking firework show held at 8 p.m. But this year the ‘light to heaven’ is going to take a different form. No fireworks will be involved in order not to scare pets and wild animals.
During the first Grand Finale, in 1993, WOŚP collected about PLN 2.5 million (ca USD 1.5 million), while in 2013 the collected money amounted to as much as PLN 50,5 million (ca USD 16,5 million).
The 27th Grand Finale in 2019 is going to take place on Sunday, January 13. Will the Polish beat last year’s result?