Students walk day without shoes

Courtesy Photo /

Courtesy Photo /

Brittney Mestdagh

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Children in developing countries work, play and travel without the comfort of shoes.

The TOMS GVSU Campus Club encourages students to experience what children all around the world experience every day and walk barefoot around campus on Thursday for One Day Without Shoes

The club hopes to raise awareness by getting other students involved and spreading the message. Shoes are an everyday convention for most students, and club president Amy Gillis said many will ask why some people are not wearing shoes. In this way, the club hopes to inform and influence others.

Gillis helped create the club in the fall after several of her favorite bands began promoting the shoes.

“Not many people in the area know about the TOMS’ mission,” Gillis said. “I think it is something a lot of college students would embrace.”

“One for one” is the TOMS’ business model, where for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will donate a pair to a child who has never known the comfort of shoes. The TOMS’ name is a shortened form of “tomorrow.”

“They are essentially shoes of and for tomorrow,” said sophomore Lauren Bankes.

Made of canvas, Bankes said the shoes are lightweight, comfortable and support a good cause.

“They are like slipper shoes, but they are durable too,” Bankes said. “I love mine.”

Blake Mycoskie started TOMS Shoes in 2006 after visiting Argentina. Realizing many of the children there never had shoes and learning of the diseases associated with going barefoot, Mycoskie developed his business model.

According to the Web site, “A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet.”

Bare feet are also susceptible to cuts and sores, which can become infected. In certain places, shoes are required for children to attend school. If they do not have shoes, they do not get the education to which they are entitled.

Mycoskie later returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes. As of December 2009, the company had distributed 400,000 pairs of shoes to children around the world.

TOMS GVSU Campus Club helps raise awareness of the cause through activities such as One Day Without Shoes. Bankes said she participated unofficially last year. She walked barefoot most of the day but carried a pair of shoes with her in case shoes were required in some places.

Gillis said the Department of Public Safety developed a route around campus where it is safe to walk barefoot.

On April 18 from noon to 4 p.m., the club is hosting a Style Your Sole party under the Transitional Link. Students can come with a plain pair of TOMS or any shoes and decorate them. The club will provide the decorating supplies.

Bankes said during the fall semester, the club will plan Take the Walk in the first week of December. This event also promotes walking barefoot in any conditions. Students will walk a mile through campus.

“These events serve as a constant reminder that kids less fortunate live every day without shoes,” Bankes said.

For more information, TOMS GVSU Campus Club will set up a table in Kirkhof from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday.

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