Have you heard about WOŚP in Poland? Posted by Kasia on Jan 22, 2017 in Calendar, Organizations, Social Network
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 people’s lives.
Founded by a man who can best be described as a force of nature, Jerzy Owsiak, GOCC/WOŚP is essentially a huge one day telethon aimed at raising awareness and lots of money for children’s health care. Initially organised to provide “health care for children by supplying medical equipment to public hospitals,” GOCC changes its beneficiary cause each year and has since raised money for child victims of motor accidents and children with serious vision problems. In its first year, GOCC raised 1.5 million USD but since these early days it has become the biggest event of its kind in Poland with over 138 million USD raised to date.
Owsiak’s first fund-raising participation was organised spontaneously after an appeal from the cardio-surgeons from “Centrum Zdrowia Dziecka”, for financial support for the purchase of medical equipment. In 1992, Owsiak invited doctors onto his programme “Brum” broadcast on Polskie Radio Program III, and repeatedly reminded his listeners on every edition about paying money into a given account. This action was also continued during the Jarocin Festival the same year.
There was a lot of positive feedback for these actions, and in March 1993, thanks to the initiative of Owsiak and Walter Chełstowski, GOCC officially came into existence and its first Great Finale was organised on January 3, 1993. Since then, the Great Finale has taken place every year and Owsiak is the main organizer and compere of the TV programme under the same title, broadcast on TVN.
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’. People stick them on their jackets, handbags, backpacks – they are simply proud to have contributed. 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 event ends with the so called ‘light to heaven’, which is a breathtaking firework show held at 8 p.m.