Nov 3, 2009

Liberty’s One for One Initiative: TOMS Shoes

by Tiffany Edwards

Millions of children all over the world work, play and live barefoot, making them vulnerable to injuries and illnesses that can occur from walking on treacherous terrain and contaminated soil. TOMS Shoes’ One for One Movement works to supply children in developing countries with shoes to protect their feet and to complete school uniforms, according to the TOMS Shoes Web site. Liberty University is now involved in the movement to help underprivileged children by buying shoes.

Juniors Lauren Edwards and Brittney Phelan spearheaded the new TOMS club at Liberty University.

“TOMS is a truly unique company.  By getting students involved we are impacting the lives of the children as well as the lives of our students,” Phelan said.

Edwards, the president of Liberty’s TOMS club, was inspired to start the Liberty chapter when her sister gave her TOMS shoes as a gift.

“I had been wanting for so long to be able to donate a pair of shoes to a hurting child … simply (by) buying new shoes for myself,” Edwards said. “My sister loves TOMS herself, but she knew how (to) much it would mean to me. I knew I had to go back to Liberty and spread the cause of TOMS all over campus.”

Edwards and Phelan aim to make TOMS an active organization in the Lynchburg community, and Christian service credit is available for students who join the organization.

However, it is not just children in developing countries that need shoes. All over America, children live in poverty and wear shoes that are too small or tattered — shoes that do more harm than good.

“Our goal for this academic year is to raise roughly $4,000 so that we can buy 100 pairs of shoes to donate locally here in Lynchburg,” Edwards said. “We would like to donate through CampusServe or to a local elementary school who really could benefit from it.”

According to Edwards, the TOMS club at Liberty is officially recognized by the TOMS Shoes organization as representatives of their company and cause. TOMS Shoes provides the club with promotional material and event ideas. They have also created a discount promotional code specifically for Liberty students. The TOMS club currently aspires to get involved in a TOMS Shoes international shoe drop.

The TOMS club at Liberty is in the process of planning various fundraising events for the 2009-2010 academic year.

“Nov. 13 is our TOMSong Benefit concert. It will be at the White Hart (Café) from 7 to 10 p.m. Our headlining band is Another Treehouse Acquaintance,” Edwards said.

The TOMS club is also organizing a screening of the documentary “TOMS: Shoes For Tomorrow” on Dec. 11. In the spring the club plans to host a Style Your Sole event, where students can pre-order white pairs of TOMS shoes, and on the day of the event, pick up their shoes and decorate them with art supplies provided by the club. “Our goal for the school year is to help Liberty students become aware of why TOMS Shoes exists and to get involved in the movement ... We plan on establishing a club that out lives our years at Liberty and can continue to enrich the university and the local community,” Phelan said.

For more information about TOMS Shoes at Liberty, e-mail

Contact Tiffany Edwards at


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