The annual Three Kings Collection, the biggest fundraiser in the country, organised by the Catholic charity Caritas, has been forced to go online in 2021 due to the strict coronavirus measures in place. Nevertheless, its organizers hope that it will not remain out of sight at a time when support for the needy is more important than ever.
The charity drive which was established in 2,000 by the Catholic charity Caritas has become a firmly established part of the holidays. It involves children dressed up as Kašpar, Melichar and Baltazar – the “three wise men”, later known as kings, who followed the star of Bethlehem to find the new-born baby Jesus, going from house to house, carolling and leaving their initials – ‘K + M + B’ – above the door frames as a symbol of blessing, as they collect money for the needy. This year the charity fundraiser is more important than ever – but the traditional child carollers will be notably absent from the streets this year, as Jarmila Lomozová from Caritas explains.
“Caritas has had to prepare an online collection this year because of the need to minimize social contacts and respect distancing rules. Anyone who visits our web page will still be able to enjoy the familiar sight of children dressed up as the “three kings” singing carols and giving them the traditional blessing, and there they will be able to make a contribution to our bank account or via DMS. The Three Kings Charity Concert will also take place online this year and will be broadcast by Czech public television, sadly without the presence of children in the auditorium.”
The largest and most successful fund-raiser in the country has been extended until January 24 in the hope that the extra time provided will make up for the loss in social contacts. Over the past two decades the Three Kings Collection has raised more than 1.4 billion crowns in aid of the needy. Jarmila Lomozová says she hopes its absence from the streets next year will not make a difference.
“Last year we had a record year – our volunteers collected 136 million crowns for people in need, for which we are very grateful. This has been an exceptionally difficult year for everyone and therefore we do not want to set our sights too high. We will be grateful if people give whatever they can spare.”
Caritas Czech Republic is the largest non-state provider of social services in the country. The bulk of the money collected is used for specific social and health care projects in the region where it was donated and around 10 percent of it goes to humanitarian projects abroad.
Daniela Lazarová, Radio Prague International