Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity on Stamps

Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (in short, WOSP, in English: Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity) is the best-known Polish charity organization, aiming at the improvement of medical treatment of infants. Active since 1993, the organization rejoices the highest ranking of credibility in Poland among all non-governmental, non-profit organization, with as many as 87% interviewed Poles ascertaining its positive role in society. Organized yearly, usually on the first or second Sunday in January, the organization has raised until now USD297mil which they used for medical supplies and equipment for neonatology, oncology and palleative care. In 2019, WOSP made the news in unfortunate circumstances, as during the festivities, one of the supporters of WOSP, the mayor of the city of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, was stabbed and subsequently died.

WOSP was frequently present on stamps in the last two decades, as Polish Post used to join the charity efforts by issuing stamps, parts of the proceeds thereof going to the charity. Polish Post ceased to officially back the organization in 2017, however the story of WOSP stamps is not ready yet.

The first WOSP stamp was issued in 2004, and features the well-known logo of the foundation, a red heart with the text “Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy), for the 12th anniversary of the charity.

One year later, in 2005, a new stamp was issued for the 13th edition of the charity events.

For this stamp, the founder and president of WOSP, Jerzy Owsiak provided part of the design of the stamp.

Jerzy Owsiak repeated the feat in 2007, for the 15th anniversary of WOSP (pictured above).

Five years later, in 2012, a new stamp under the form of a block was issued by the Polish Post, for the 20th anniversary of WOSP. In addition to the well-known logo, the text “Zdrowa mama, zdrowy wcześniak, zdrowe dziecko” (“Healthy mother, healthy preemie, healthy child“) is visible on the block, as the proceeds of the year’s charity were destined to the improvement of medical treatment of premature babies.

Two more issues of stamps featuring WOSP were released in 2013. The first one is for the 21st anniversary of the foundation – and one of the first Polish self-adhesive stamps. Unfortunately they are printed in very poor technological condition, therefore they are less likely to ‘survive’ in a collection for a long time.

Below the sheet view of the stamp, featuring the year’s slogan: “Dla ratowania życia dzieci i godnej opieki medycznej seniorów” (“In order to save the life of children and provide decent medical care for elders“).

The second issue of 2013 joins two events – the rock festival “Przystanek Woodstock” (currently Pol’and’rock Festival) and WOSP. Again the issue is self-adhesive, but the technology used is way better than for the previous issue. Below the image from the presentation pack.

Below the sheet view of the stamp.

In 2015, a new stamp was issued, featuring more key words on the brim of the heart: “Diagnostyka. Pediatria. Onkologia. Kardiochirurgia. Godna opieka ludzi w podeszłym wieku” (“Diagnosis. Pediatrics. Oncology. Cardiac surgery. Decent care of elders“).

Below, the sheet view of the stamp.

The last to date official issue of the Polish Post dates from 2016. After this issue, the Polish Post did not issue further stamps for the charity organization. While there was no official statement by which the decision to cease the issue of WOSP stamps was made clear, a second-hand statement was made by the Ministry of Infrastructure, to whom the Polish Post is tributary. Instead of issuing as frequently before a WOSP stamp in early January, the Polish Post chose to issue a stamp for the 25th anniversary of the Government-backed, shady religious organization Radio Maryja.

However, the decision did not stop the promotion of WOSP stamps. In 2018, founder and director Jerzy Owsiak proposed three digital designs for the stamps, which you can see below.

The stamps are in the format used by the online services of the Polish Post called Envelo, where users can upload images and order printed cards. This opens an altogether new era in stamps, where personalized stamps continue the previously held task of official stamps.

Stamps featured in post: 8; Period: contemporary (2004-2016); Pricing: low; Availability: most are readily available.

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