Instead, a day with shoes

Over the last few years, the proliferation of the TOMS Shoes One-for-One campaign has made the slipper-like shoes practically ubiquitous, especially on college campuses.

The primary reason they have been so successful is they capitalize on consumerism to promote their charitable cause.

The premise of this philanthropic organization is that for every pair of shoes purchased, one pair of shoes is donated to a child in need.

The movement began back in 2006 when company founder Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina and discovered that the children there had no shoes to don their feet, making them more susceptible to sores that easily become infected and potentially life-threatening.

This dilemma is not even limited to merely Argentina, however. In numerous developing countries, one of the leading causes of illness comes from diseases that are transmitted through the soil and penetrate the body through the exposed feet.

Furthermore, since the mandatory school uniform often includes shoes, numerous children in developing countries are unable to attain an education and thus cannot obtain a higher standard of living for themselves in the future.

Dr. Fwasa Singogo, World Vision Zambia’s Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Advisor, testifies to the striking differences having shoes can make in one’s life.

In the 2010 TOMS Giving Report he said, “Shoes simply mean everything to a Zambian child. I am called doctor today because of the shoes my father bought, which motivated me to keep going to school and to work hard. Shoes were and are still a luxury in this country.”

So by giving impoverished children shoes, TOMS is helping to remove at least one obstacle they would have in escaping the rut in which they would otherwise bound to be stuck for the remainder of their lives.

This Tuesday, they are holding their annual A Day Without Shoes campaign where students — or anyone else who wants to help support the cause — go barefoot to promote awareness about their philanthropic purposes.

The notion is that if people suddenly see hundreds, possibly thousands of their peers trekking shoeless across campus one day, they are bound to ask questions and possibly become involved in the project as well.

While this bore some verisimilitude when the movement was just gaining momentum, this may no longer be as effective and appropriate for the company’s purposes.

Now that many people are at least somewhat familiar with the campaign, the event serves far less of a purpose. They would be better served to, say, have everyone wear their TOMS on the same day and try to get their friends who do not yet have a pair to purchase one.

That way, the organization can promote the solution to the problem, rather than just having thousands of people make themselves susceptible to disease and, here in Arizona, even blisters and burns.

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