Have you ever stopped to think how fortunate you are to have what some might consider a shopping mall in your closet? Some people barely have clothes. Some kids don’t even own one pair of shoes.
What about your education? Do you ever skip class just because you have the luxury to or you don’t feel like going? Some kids don’t have access to education in developing countries—at all.
Where do you go if you’re feeling sick? Fortunately, you can just walk over the University’s Health Services Center or go downtown to pick up some medication.
Millions of people in undeveloped countries are forced to go barefoot every day, not because they want to, but because they simply don’t have shoes. This makes them much more vulnerable to contract diseases entering their body through cuts on their feet.
According to the official TOMS website for One Day Without Shoes, Hookworm is a soil-transmitted parasite that 740 million people worldwide. “Long-term physical effects include stunted growth, decreased cognitive development, anemia and chronic fatigue.”
TOMS partners with IMA World Health to, “give de-worming medication and shoes to needy children, helping them stay healthy with a combination of prevention and treatment.”
TOMS also works to help these children by donating money for school uniforms for the children, which is a requirement in schools in some developing countries. TOMS helps to increase attendance in schools by 62 percent.
Lauren Byerly, co-founder of the Penn State TOMS Club, says the goal of the event is to be a conversation starter and encourage people to take action in causes they feel passionately about.
“The ultimate goal for our organization is not at all about making students buy shoes. It’s about encouraging the Penn State community to lead a more giving lifestyle and help others in whatever capacity their busy lives allow. We want this event to help students step outside of their comfort zones for a day, and realize what it’s like to walk in the shoe-less soles of another,” Byerly says.
One Day Without Shoes is on April 16. Participants should meet at the grassy platform area outside of the Thomas building on Shortlidge Road at 12:00 pm. At around 12:15, the participants will march down the length of Pollock Rd. and back—you guessed it, shoeless. At the end of the event, there will be a raffle. The winner of the raffle will win a pair of hand painted, personalized TOMS.
For every pair of TOMS purchased, a pair is given to a child in need. So be fashionable and philanthropic—as all Penn State girls should be!
Photo by Sophia Hubler