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WOŚP: Poland’s annual charity event hits 30

The 30th anniversary of Poland’s biggest charity fund-raiser took place on January 30, with 1,633 staff and nearly 120,000 volunteers collecting money throughout Poland and around the world to help in the treatment of children’s eyesight, among other things.

As many as 90 members of staff in 29 countries participated in this year’s collection, with 9 staff members in Germany, 24 in the UK, Asia (including Japan, China and Thailand), Africa (including for the first time Zanzibar), Australia (3) and the United States (8). 

The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy, WOŚP) is the most trusted – and the largest – non-governmental, non-profit, charity organization in Poland. Founded in 1993, it has been held every January since, funding the most up-to-date medical equipment for children’s hospitals and supporting geriatric care. From the beginning of its operation, it has raised over PLN 1.5 billion and bought over 67,000 devices.

This event will fund pediatric ophthalmology for the first time, dedicated to the purchase of equipment for 25 centers with pediatric ophthalmology departments operating in 17 Polish cities, on 8 year programs implemented, one of which is the Program for the Prevention and Treatment of Retinopathy in Premature Babies.

Its founder and leader, Jerzy Owsiak, is a national figure known for his relentless campaigning and encouraging people to help each other. 

“After 30 years, we confirm and show that, as Poles, we are able to do amazing things,” Owsiak said at the opening of this year’s event.

The latest research by the “Inquiry: Insights for Growth” agency in January 2022 showed that 89% of Poles planned to participate in this year’s fundraising and 75% of Poles thought that WOŚP was the best charity initiative in Poland, while 80% said they were proud that such an initiative exists in Poland.

This is also confirmed by the results. At the end of the final day, the counter of collected payments on the WOŚP website showed PLN 136.282,325. This is nearly nine million more than in 2021.

In 2021, WOŚP collected a record PLN 210.813,830 (PLN 80 mln more than expected), though, as Owsiak put it, it’s not about records. 

“From the very beginning, we say that it is not the record that drives us. We are most driven by the fact that we are together – that we all took part again, as Poles, around the world … The Foundation is millions of Poles – it is not only the Foundation’s team, but a symbol of all Poles who want to participate with us, think in a social way, are open to people and want their work to strengthen what makes Poland honest, healthy, respectful and caring for everyone. We are creating such a Poland and not only during this one day of the event,” he said last February .