Monday, February 23, 2015

Poland 2015 - 23. Final of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

ISSUE DATE: 7 January 2015
STAMP DESIGN: Magdalena Jabłońska, Katarzyna Sasin,
Gaweł Andrzejewski, Jerzy Owsiak
STAMP SIZE: 31.25 mm x 43 mm
SHEET LAYOUT: 9 stamps per sheet
PRINTING: offset

The Grand Orchestra of Christmas Charity (GOCC, Polish Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy, WOŚP) is one of the biggest, non-governmental, non-profit, charity organizations in Poland. The GOCC Foundation has American Heart Association Certification for providing courses in CPR and ECC, and use of high technology for medical lifesaving.

It was founded in 1993 by Jerzy Owsiak, Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak, Bohdan Maruszewski, and Piotr Burczyński. The main objective, at that time, was "Protecting Health and Saving Children's Lives by Providing Medical Equipment to Public Hospitals" (as stated in the deed of foundation). 

The face of the GOCC. The Head of the GOCC. The heart of the GOCC. THE MAN BEHIND IT - Jurek Owsiak. Despite various opinions from people who for some reason are trying to discredit what he does - he is the man who manage for 23 consecutive years move whole country in good direction. For one day every year Polish people play as an orchestra. Orchestra conducted perfectly.

During the first Finale (for the benefit of pediatric cardio-surgery) in the same year, the Foundation collected a total of USD 1,535,440.68. Every year, millions of Poles donate their money to the Foundation and, between 1993 and 2005, they collected more than $60 million for public hospitals in Poland.

 WOŚP Poczta Polska Znaczek wielkiej orkiestry świątecznej pomocy

Apart from The Grand Finale, the Foundation also organizes one of the biggest rock concerts in Poland, Woodstock Festival Poland, and it started the Peace Patrol, a group of young volunteers trained in first aid by the GOCC, the Polish Red Cross and the Szadowo town police. In 2010, the Charity was paid to be 'sponsor' of Ruch Chorzów, one of Poland's top football teams.

The Grand Finale takes place on the first or second Sunday of every new year. Sponsored by many Polish and worldwide companies, it is a one-day long, nationwide, money-raising event. Volunteers from all around Poland go out on the street and collect money in special cans which are labeled with a red heart and text: "Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy" (Polish for The Grand Orchestra of Christmas Charity). They also have identification cards, thanks to which anyone can report suspicious-looking people collecting money to the police without any such proof of authorization.

Everyone who gives the volunteers any amount of money, gets a red heart sticker in return.

During this one day, huge parties are thrown around the country (and at other places where Polish people live). These are organized by volunteers, except for the biggest event which takes place at the Pałac Kultury i Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science (pic. left)) in Warsaw, and is managed by the GOCC itself. At 8 p.m. firework show is set in every city as so called 'light to heaven'.

Throughout 23 Grand Finales, the Foundation collected over $172 million for cardio-surgery, neonatology, pediatric oncology, kidney diseases, congenital defects, newborns and children under 5 years of age.

go visit, go help

23. Final of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity
23. Finał Wielkiej Orkiestry Świątecznej Pomocy
First Day Cover / Koperta FDC