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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 two years it has also collected money to provide better healthcare for the elderly.
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.
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). This year the Grand Finale took place on January 12th. Will the Polish beat last year’s result?