EL PASO — Bare feet slapped the polished floors in the halls of learning and blistered on the hot sidewalks of the desert campus of the University of Texas at El Paso, until by day’s end they made their point – alleviate the real plight of barefooted children in third world countries.
Students abandoned the luxury of wearing shoes emulating the shoeless poverty of Ethiopia and Zambia in the TOMS event, “One Day Without Shoes,” a worldwide effort on April 5 to bring awareness to the importance of providing shoes for children.
TOMS is a brand of shoes known for the motto – “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for one.” Every pair of shoes that an individual buys guarantees that a pair of shoes is made for a child in need somewhere in the world.
Students from TOMS Campus Club (TOMSCC) and ONE (OCC) gathered at Leech Grove on the University of Texas at El Paso’s campus to help bring awareness to what TOMS does and to provide information about this day.
“One Day Without Shoes is basically to raise awareness about children and families that don’t have basic clothing,” said TOMS Campus Club President Vanessa Brown. “Here at the university we take advantage; we can get up in the morning, come to school, take our classes and go home. And this is something that a lot of people don’t have the means to do simply because they don’t have protective clothing like shoes.”
Throughout the day students were able to stop by the TOMSCC table to “surrender” their shoes at the table and walk barefoot to their next class.
“I take part in One Day Without Shoes to help raise awareness for the millions of kids around the world who don’t have a choice; they can’t put shoes on everyday because they don’t have any,” said sophomore Education and Psychology major Ginaelisa Cortez. “So it’s really important to me to promote awareness and to help promote TOMS and what they’re doing because I think it’s an amazing cause.”
High schoolers, college students, corporations, and communities joined together in numerous events worldwide, in places such as Canada, London, Spain, and United States, to support the 4th year of this event. Those who took part did so to speak up about the importance of shoes for children around the world. According to the 2010 TOMS Giving Report, “Many schools in developing countries require shoes for attendance. And some soil-based diseases not only cause physical symptoms, but create cognitive impairment too, crippling a child’s long-term potential.”
The simple task of walking around with no shoes allowed an individual to make a difference for those children in the world who may not have a voice to speak up for themselves. “I think it is important to raise awareness especially on college campuses, because we as a younger generation and an educated generation we have a lot of resources we can use to really make a difference in our community and on a national scale,” said Brown.