Sep 8, 2009

Buy a pair of shoes, change a life

by Katie Bell

Each school year brings a sense of newness to our student body. The new freshmen, new haircuts, new clothes and new shoes are the signature mark that the school year has begun. But what about the children across the globe who long to go to school but are not allowed because they do not have shoes?

In 2006, TOMS shoes was conceived as an answer to this predicament. It began when Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina and immediately befriended some local children. He soon discovered that none of the children owned shoes. He returned to the States with memories of the Argentinean children and an idea that would change thousands of lives. Mycoskie decided to begin a shoe company, and with every pair of shoes that were sold, another would be donated to a child in need. He designed a basic, yet unique-looking pair of canvas kicks which are affordable to manufacture and comfortable to wear. The next year he returned to Argentina with friends, family and 10,000 pairs of shoes — this was the first shoe drop.

The average American purchases eight pairs of shoes a year at an average cost of $85 per pair, according to a article by Jacqueline Bodnar entitled, “Buying Discount Shoes Keeps Money in Pockets of Financially Strapped Customers.” By purchasing a pair of TOMS shoes, which range in cost from $44 to $54, a consumer can save money and help a child in need. It is hard to argue with a deal like that.

As Americans, we take shoes for granted. Shoes protect feet from cuts and sores, which are quite painful and can become infected. The leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites that penetrate the skin through open sores, according to Wearing shoes can prevent this and the risk of amputation after infection. Wearing shoes literally can save lives.

TOMS has five shoe drops a week in Ethiopia alone to prevent podoconiosis, a debilitating disease that preys on victims who walk barefoot. But it is 100 percent preventable just by wearing shoes. Many Americans are already proud TOMS owners and those who are not should think about becoming part of the movement.

Contact Katie Bell at 

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