A Shoe that Gives is a Shoe Worth Giving...

Many of you may not know this about me, but in the late ‘90’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in two Panamanian villages, Pedernal and  Embera Drua, and experienced life without bathrooms, without walls, without shoes.  For many, there is nothing to adapt to, this is life as they know it. Shoes are a luxury and are often a barrier to receiving education. Lack of shoes exposes children to injury, soil-born illnesses and parasites that enter the body through skin. I used to travel home and collect my younger sister’s outgrown shoes to bring back to the village. I could do that since I had access to 1) a little girl’s outgrown wardrobe and 2) village children who needed and wanted my sister’s gently warn shoes. I still want to help but can’t fly as often and I know of countless others who would love to help but also don’t frequent rural villages in developing nations….and then there is that ever-looming concern that “what difference can one person really make”…Yesterday, Moraima Avalos, a sweet and savvy, socially-conscious 17 year-old NYC high school student gave me the answer:  Tom’s Shoes. For every pair of shoes Tom sells, they give a new pair of shoes to a child in need, one for one. Tom’s even publishes an annual giving report so customers can really understand the breath of the impact their purchase has.

The shoes are stylish, washable, comfortable, affordable and for each pair you and your loved ones wear through, you are ensuring that somewhere, possibly a place you don’t even know exists, a child is getting a pair of new shoes personally sized and placed on his foot (no exaggeration!) because you choose Tom’s for your beach shoes or playground shoes. That feels good for me, does good for other’s and espouses the values I want to teach my children. What a win-win with no effort on my part.

If you want to truly understand Tom’s inspiration, watch this short video and if you want to experience shoelessness, then sign up for 2012’s One Day without Shoes. Imagine that if your family all wore them, then an entire family somewhere would have shoes. if a hospital’s staff decided to wear Tom’s shoes, or if a school that requires uniforms decided to recommend Tom’s shoes, then an entire village of children would have shoes. It is inspirational…and actionable. Thank you Moraima!