Geislerova shows how DIY charity is done

Ana Geislerova and Tatiana Vilhelmova, photo: CTK

Ana Geislerova is one of the Czech Republic's most popular young actresses, having appeared in hit films such as "Sileni", or "Lunacy", and "Kraska v Nesnazich", or "Beauty in Trouble", which is in theaters now. All this past weekend, however, she's been doing something a little different: running a charity swap meet.

Ana Geislerova and Tatiana Vilhelmova, photo: CTK
Even if you didn't know that she has ginger hair and a weakness for kooky jewelry, it wasn't hard to pick Ana Geislerova out: she was the person everyone wanted to talk to.

Praguers lined up with their handmade lace, their exotic lamps, and their vintage handbags, all for the chance to put these valuables in the hands of a famous actress. Geislerova oohed and aahed over the loot, and then passed it onto her helpers. Pretty soon the back of the café at the Disk Theater in Prague's old town was full of donated goods.

"They just bring the stuff, we clean it, we make it nice, and we sell everything, well most of the stuff we sell. People buy things for a recent price or a nonsense price - it depends on how much they want to give."

Not content to simply let the wares sell themselves, Geislerova modeled some of the jewelry:

"We have like a whole box of this special necklaces and my necklace had - is it the dwarves from Snow White? It's the garden dwarves? I don't know but it's beautiful. And we have a whole box of these strange necklaces and I think they're wonderful."

Other items on offer: a brand new mountain bike, tennis rackets, golf clubs, pottery, and underwear signed by Czech celebrities.

Last year the charitable bazaar raised 210,000 crowns, or about ten thousand US dollars. This year Geislerova wants to double that figure. She says it's amazing how much good you can do turning one man's unwanted or un-used stuff into another man's gold. The whole notion came by simply by chance one night, when Geislerova was hanging out with her friends Peter Serge Butko, a theater director, and Tatiana Vilhelmova, an actress:

Ana Geislerova, Tatiana Vilhelmova, Peter Serge Butko, photo: CTK
"One day we were sitting in the pub, we were thinking of how to make money and then so we set the rules, like so we have to try if we are even able to organize a bazaar. And then we thought let's not be - chamtivy? - Greedy. Let's do it for someone else first time, and then we will see if we are able to do something for ourselves."

Four years later, Geislerova and her pals still haven't taken a crown - just the satisfaction of helping others. Tonight at a benefit at the Lucerna music bar, they will hand over the cash in three bags to three charities: an orphanage, a school for handicapped kids, and an Alzheimer's aid organization. And until next Christmas, that's it. You might call it no-frills charitable giving:

"We always call them like we will have some money for you, we don't know how much. The only condition is you have to come pick it up yourself."