On Tuesday, April 5, the usual horde of students gathered in front of the Humanities Building before class — some donning their UGG or rain boots to protect them from the puddles and spring rain. But peppered in between the sheepskin and the rubber, there were bare feet exposed to the elements.
These students chose to forgo their footwear to participate in the nationwide One Day Without Shoes event, sponsored by TOMS shoes. Created by Blake Mycoskie, the company donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased in what they refer to as the “One for One” movement.
“For hundreds of millions of children, shoes are a luxury they cannot afford,” said Mycoskie on his blog.
Mycoskie said he founded the company after a visit to Argentina brought the desperate need for footwear to his attention. He saw children living each day without shoes, which made them far more susceptible to soil-transmitted diseases and infection-prone cuts and sores. He said he found that people underestimate the importance of something as commonplace as shoes.
On top of the health risks, Mycoskie said going without shoes denies many children an education. Since shoes are often part of the required uniform to attend school, many children are denied entrance to institutions that could provide them with important life skills.
Linda Echeverry, a first-year business management major, says One Day Without Shoes is about promoting awareness and sparking curiosity and conversation.
“Movements create curiosity, which in turn results, often time, in action,” said Echeverry. “TOMS wants people to know what it is like to live just one day, even just one hour, without shoes.”
Echeverry said that bringing this event to SUNY New Paltz was the kind of conversation stirring wake-up call needed to insight change. When students saw their classmates shoe-less, they were bound to ask questions.
“People are never aware of what’s going on until it directly affects them,” Echeverry said. “Most of us here at SUNY New Paltz, and across the U.S. are in a position where we will probably never have to go through life without a pair of shoes on our feet, but there are children that do, and One Day Without Shoes was created to make people aware of what is going on, what it feels like and how they can make a difference.”
For more information about TOMS, visit www.TOMS.com. For more information about the One Day Without Shoes event, visit www.onedaywithoutshoes.com.