“We’re going barefoot on April 8 – are you?”These are the words headlining e-mails, ads, and the website for the TOMS Shoes organization, a group that emphasizes a “one for one” business model when it comes to footwear. Formed in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, the organization sells shoes (and other products) with the guarantee that for every product that is bought, a child in need is given a pair of shoes.
Mycoskie and the rest of the TOMS team have made it a goal to give children one million pairs of shoes by 2012, and with the help of the Clinton Global Initiative, aim to give at least 10,000 pairs of shoes to children in Haiti after the earthquakes.
So why shoes?
Mycoskie gives three main reasons for giving children in developing countries footwear. First, soil-transmitted diseases are a leading cause of disease and death in developing countries, and penetrate the skin through the foot. Second, wearing shoes helps to prevent cuts and sores, which would open an easy pathway for the above-mentioned diseases and common infections. Finally, many children may not be allowed to attend school without shoes due to a strict uniform policy. Giving these children shoes allows for them to receive an education.
In respect to the hardships these children face, TOMS has given America a challenge: go barefoot for one day, April 8, in support of TOMS and the children who benefit from the organization. All TOMS staff at their various headquarters will be participating, and there will be various TOMS walks at universities across the nation.
Though WCU has no determined or planned event, students should still consider participating in “One Day Without Shoes.” Though the idea of walking barefoot in Anderson or in the lobby of the dormitories may not seem that appealing, one day with no shoes won’t cause anyone harm.
“We are asking people to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first-hand, and to help spread awareness of the impact a simple pair of shoes can bring to a child’s life,” the event website says.
Mycoskie and TOMS have created the OneDayWithoutShoes.com website in hopes to promote the event and gain support across the United States. The site features a discussion board, event plans, and personal accounts of supporters and TOMS workers on their ideas. Over 300,000 people have already pledged to participate in the event – varying over ages, creeds, professions and locations.
For those who would prefer their soles to be sheathed on April 8, there are events taking place solely on the Internet, allowing everyone to participate in the event. One particular event created by a site user is “I’m going barefoot – virtually!” The idea of the event is to swap out all virtual identification measures (Twitter updates, Facebook photos, etc) to bear the TOMS logo or message. Over 700 people have already signed up to participate in this “virtually-shoeless” event.
Another way to support is fairly obvious – buy a pair of TOMS. Shoes are made in men’s, women’s and child sizes. Other products include T-shirts, TOMS banners, necklaces and gift cards.
To all those who do plan on participating in the event, please, mind your step in the event of broken glass or gravel. Though it’s safe to say there won’t be any soil-ridden diseases waiting to ensnare the student population, participants should still be careful where they trod. Other possibilities include packing a pair of flip-flops in a book bag in the event one is uncomfortable walking across a street, but perfectly fine in a building.
In short, TOMS pleads: “go one day without shoes, so they never have to again.”
For more information on “One Day Without Shoes,” go to onedaywithoutshoes.com.
Tara Tanzos is a third year student majoring in English and minoring in creative writing. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu.