The Linux kernel isn't sexy either. You need to reboot the system to activate changes, for starters. It's easy to completely hang your system. It has its own build system and its own set of libraries. The stack space is limited to 8k or even 4k.
Most of the contributors to the Linux kernel are corporates, not individuals. I suspect they do it not because the Linux kernel is sexy, but because fixing something or adding a new feature into the kernel would eventually help their business.
Now aren't there companies out there that need OOo improved?
Specifically, IBM is always mentioned as a big contributor to OOo.
As for "Scratching the itch": what's the rate of the presentations in recent Linux-related developers conferences that were made in OOo?