Today myself, twenty or so of my schoolmates, and thousands of people around the world participated in TOMS One Day Without Shoes. TOMS is a One for One company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in a needy country for every single pair they sell, One for One. In the last year TOMS also expanded to include an eyewear division which donates glasses, vision care, or even surgery for every pair of sunglasses they sell. From the TOMS website:
One for One Movement
In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.
Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:
•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
•Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.
Shoes are a vital part of life, more so than we realize. Most of us have been blessed enough to never have had to worry about debilitating diseases that we could catch from walking barefoot in the dirt or worse yet, not being able to give our children something as basic as a pair of shoes so that they can go to school.
So, every year, thousands of people like you and I kick off our shoes and not only raise awareness for the need for shoes, but we celebrate our own blessing and the ability we have to give back to others. So I encourage you, if it's still April 10th when you're reading this: kick off your shoes! If not, check out all of the awesome products that TOMS offers and learn more about their mission, and keep an eye out for One Day Without Shoes next April!