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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    TOMS shoes comes to Arizona

    TOMS shoes comes to Arizona

    It’s hard to imagine going a day without shoes and harder still to fathom growing up without a pair. But UA students and TOMS Shoes are working together to give children growing up in developing countries, a chance to walk safely.

    “”Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot,”” said Madelyn Reynolds, the TOMS Shoes campus rep for the University of Arizona. “”Walking is the primary form of transportation to food, water, medical help and shelter.””

    Podoconiosis, a painful and debilitating disease caused by walking barefoot in silica-rich soils, currently affects a million people worldwide and prevents them from traveling relatively short distances that would be traversable with footwear, she said.

    TOMS Shoes was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an American who traveled to Argentina and was astounded by the thousands of underprivileged children without footwear. Mycoskie created TOMS to provide shoes to underprivileged children throughout the world, and since then, the company has provided over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.

    The TOMS Shoes 2009 Vagabond tour will be at Caffé Luce, 943 E. University Blvd, today at 6 p.m. The event is being put on by a team of traveling TOMS “”vagabonds”” who hope to raise awareness for the plight of shoeless children worldwide, Reynolds said.

    The event will feature the documentary “”For Tomorrow”” that chronicles the first shoe drop TOMS performed in Argentina and outlines the mission of the company, she said. The event will also include performances by local musical artists and the opportunity to design a pair of TOMS.

    TOMS shoes is able to generate the money it needs to provide children with footwear through its One for One business model: For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, the company will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.

    “”TOMS has figured out a way to pair purpose with a product,”” said music senior Corey Ferrugia. “”For the same cost as any other pair of shoes, I am putting shoes on the feet of somebody who really needs them.””

    Kelly Dunavant, a member of the group of vagabonds that will be at Caffé Luce, said apart from Argentina, TOMS is active in delivering shoes to children in need across the globe.

    “”We have performed shoe drops in Argentina, Ethiopia, South Africa, and as of April 27 we are currently performing a shoe drop in New Orleans,”” Dunavant said.

    “”TOMS shoe drops are unique because they give college students the opportunity to deliver shoes to children in underprivileged countries,”” Moriah Calhoon, entrepreneurship and business management senior said.

    By the end of 2009, TOMS plans to give away over 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in developing countries throughout the world, Reynolds said.

    “”Our ongoing events and shoe drops allow TOMS supporters and communities to be catalysts for change,”” she said. “”Children cannot attend school without shoes so our solution is to provide shoes for them.””

    On April 16, TOMS sponsored One Day Without Shoes, an international event where students worldwide left their shoes at home and conducted their daily business barefoot.

    The University of Arizona had 50 students participate.

    “”It was interesting, the parts where I could get away with going without shoes I did, but there were many instances where it wasn’t possible. It really makes you appreciate how fortunate we are,”” Calhoon said about leaving her shoes behind for a day.

    “”It’s amazing how difficult your day is without footwear, it makes you realize how fortunate we are,”” Reynolds said.

    TOMS shoes, which are available at the UofA bookstore, are modeled after traditional Argentine Alpargatas and come in a plethora of designs and styles, Reynolds said. The shoes cost $44 dollars a pair.

    “”The price might seem steep but if you are willing to give up one night out you can make a difference in a child’s life,”” she said.

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