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Turn on a television or radio in the United Kingdom recently and you’ve likely heard a reference to it, sounding like a national case of the sniffles. Red Nose Day, set to take place Friday, is a British institution on par with Jerry Lewis’ annual telethon for muscular dystrophy — a massive, high-profile fundraising drive aimed at raising cash for a good cause.

The nationwide fundraiser is organized by Comic Relief every two years to raise money and awareness for the poor and disadvantaged in the U.K. and Africa. The campaign starts weeks in advance, however, with Comic Relief urging people to plan and stage fundraising events and community drives around Red Nose Day, which culminates in a television event Friday aimed at gathering donations.

The gist of the drive is to raise cash through events with a fun or comedic theme, such as bachelor auctions or karaoke competitions, and by that token one of the pillars of the drive is to encourage people across the United Kingdom to buy and wear massive red clown noses on the official Red Nose Day, with proceeds going to the fund.

The event raises tens of millions of pounds and has even caught hold in some American communities — Lakenheath Elementary School, for instance, will be selling clown noses on Friday, and teachers and children will be able to wear them throughout the day.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: uknews@estripes.osd.mil

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