Style meets philanthropy

By Brittany Montgomery and Hayley Shaffer

Step foot onto any college campus, and you are sure to see multiple people wearing Toms shoes.

Though most people have seen them being worn, they may not know that these aren’t just another pair of shoes.

For every pair bought, there is a pair purchased for a child without shoes. “One for One” is the model Toms shoes uses to help reach out to people by putting shoes on the feet of children who cannot afford them.

Toms campus representative for UMHB senior art major Lauren Allen sees the organization as “an example of Christ. He gave us something we didn’t have, and we’re giving these children things that they don’t have.”

Sophomore social work major Brooke Goodman supports the work of Toms shoes.

Sophomore social work major Brooke Goodman supports the work of Toms shoes. Photo by Kennan Neuman

Allen became interested in Toms and applied to be campus representative in the fall of 2008.

She enjoys working to get Toms events on campus and finding ways for students to become involved with providing shoes for children.

“I think as college students we always think ‘I want to change the world,’ and I think also we are pretty materialistic people, and Toms gives you both aspects. You get a pair of shoes, so that’s your gain, and somebody else that you will probably never meet also benefits from it,” Allen said.

In 2006, founder Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina and became friends with a group of children there.

Mycoskie realized the desperation of the situation there; none of the children had shoes.

He later learned that in Ethiopia, over one million people’s feet are crippled by exposure of bare feet to volcanic soil.

Wearing shoes prevents the condition.

Mycoskie wanted to do something to help, so he started Toms. He wanted everyone to be able to make a difference, even if they weren’t able to go to those places. They were still playing a huge part in the effort.

Many students have supported the cause, including senior Christian ministry major Josh Campbell.

“Not only do I love the simplistic styling and comfort, but the fact that I am helping a good cause just by buying a pair of shoes is awesome,” he said. “There are so many kids out there in so many countries that do not have shoes, and they are dying from illness that could be prevented. To know
that just by me buying a pair of shoes I am saving a kid’s life … makes it worth it.”

Children can walk barefoot for miles. Wearing shoes allows them to safely walk distances that are otherwise impossible.

Shoes protect against tough terrain and contaminated soil. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.

Sophomore art education major, Heather Holding said, “I just got them because they are super cute, and you can wear them with pretty much anything. Yes, they are expensive for a pair of simple shoes, but it is so worth it to know that a child in a Third-World country gets a pair, too. As
Americans, we just take so many things, like shoes, for granted, and I think the cause is worth the expense.”

Since Toms was started, the organization has given 150,000 pairs of shoes to children around the world. They hope to give 300,000 in 2009.

Many representatives from Toms have visited campus to encourage students to take part in the cause.

Allen was in charge of the efforts. She said it was important to make purchasing the shoes easily accessible.

Sophomore social work major Cara Scott said, “Knowing that just buying shoes can save the life of a child … is a good feeling.”

Author: The Bells Staff

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