I was excited to receive my Toms catalog yesterday. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this company, Toms will give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you order. These shoes can literally mean the difference between life and death, because many children in developing countries have no shoes, they run the risk of cuts in their feet, infection, sickness or parasites. These shoes protect their feet so they can run and play safely, go to school and have a better life.
Toms sells men’s, women’s and children’s shoes in a variety of colors, fabrics and styles. I started out buying their basic black and brown classics. Since then I’ve branched out into a music print, black/silver houndstooth check, and a colorful multicolor weave. They are classic and comfortable enough to go with everything, but stylish enough that you wouldn’t think twice about slipping them on for a night out. And at a price tag starting at $40, they are also cheaper than most brands – an even better deal considering the price provides two pairs of shoes (one for you, one for the child). Knowing I helped a child’s qualify of life puts a real spring in my step, and I’m sure it will provide you with the same satisfaction.
In recent years Toms has also expanded their merchandise line, providing a wider array of goods while providing those in need with more services. They now sell handbags, tote bags, backpacks,sunglasses and coffee. Every pair of sunglasses sold helps provide restored eyesight for a person in need. Every tote bag or handbag provides training for birth attendants and essential supplies. If you buy a bag of coffee, the profits are used to provide clean water for people. Backpacks help fund staff training and counseling to eliminate bullying.
Uninterested in adding to your shoe collection (or antagonizing your already patient spouse)? While researching material for this blog entry, I stumbled across a great donation site for shoes; Soles4Souls (www.soles4souls.org). Formed in 2006, Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization that works to eradicate poverty by collecting and distributing shoes to the less fortunate. Some are distributed directly to the recipient, while others are distributed to people in developing nations to give them a supply of low-cost product to sell in order to support themselves and their families. So far, Soles4Souls has donated 26 million pair of shoes to adults and children in 127 countries around the world and in all 50 states. These shoes enable kids to go to school and adults to go to work. This organization also helps keep shoes out of the landfills. You can have a shoe drive to collect a volume of shoes, or simply donate your own shoes. The shoes can either be shipped to one of their centers or dropped off at one of their partner’s locations. I checked the site and found a drop off site only eight miles from my front door. You can help by supplying gently-used shoes or cash donations to help cover operating costs.
And what if you have athletic shoes that are not exactly “gently” worn? Nike has a Reuse-A-Shoe program which takes your old athletic shoes and breaks them down into parts which can be recycled into new uses, such as running tracks, footpaths, playgrounds, basketball courts or football goal posts. The Reuse-A-Shoe program has collected over 25 million shoes since 1990 and re-used them for worthwhile sporting applications.
To donate your old shoes to the Reuse-A-Shoe program, simply drop your shoes off at any Nike or Converse store.
Well, if you will excuse me, I am going to check my closet for some shoes to share.
Till the next time,
It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can. Sidney Smith