A day without shoes: smells like activism

College students love being activists. It’s in their blood.

Whether they’re petitioning for legalized marijuana, protesting a war or saving our ecosystem, students handing out flyers and asking for donations regularly swarm ASU’s various campuses.

This week, there will be a different kind of activism at ASU.

TOMS Shoes is promoting “One Day Without Shoes” on Thursday, April 8 to raise awareness for children who grow up without anything to wear on their feet. Many ASU students will take part.

TOMS Shoes was founded on a “One for One” business model: for each pair of shoes sold, the company donates a pair to a child in need.

This is serious activism. Anyone can hand out flyers or ask people to donate, but it takes much more effort to seek out people who need help and walk a mile in their ... lack of shoes.

It isn’t politically charged or controversial and it isn’t protesting anything or anyone. The day without shoes is all about helping people, and maybe about bunions. This is an irrefutably good cause that requires no effort from its volunteers.

In fact, it requires less effort to participate than it does not to do so. Volunteers don’t even have to tie their shoes.

There will still be people who refuse to participate: cynics and complainers who also refuse to vote or celebrate religious holidays. They’ll say that walking around without shoes on isn’t going to help anyone and that if you want to make a difference you should win the lottery and donate the money to starving Africans.

It’s true that walking around barefoot won’t save the world, but what’s the problem with feeling like you made a difference? People who ask, “Why not?” get a lot more done than people who ask, “What’s the point?”

So why shoes? Why not donate more vital things, like food, textbooks or Chia Pets?

Without shoes, children can get diseases, cuts and blisters can become infected and prospective students can be denied entrance into a school. These are the biggest reasons for TOMS Shoes’ charitable donations, according to their Web site. In places where walking is the foremost means of transportation, these problems are more prevalent than one might think.

So let your feet breathe a bit Thursday. It’s like a continuation of spring break; just pretend you’re at the beach. Yahoo News predicts 86-degree temperatures.

To put things in perspective, Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila ran the entire 1960 Olympic marathon without shoes and won with a time of two hours and 15 minutes. Everyone who isn’t running an Olympic marathon Thursday can probably go without shoes for a day.

Jack is tending to his Chia Pet. Contact him at jlfitzpa@asu.edu

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