By Laura Hubbard
Dalhousie University’s Toms Shoes campus club hosted a Style Your Sole workshop Saturday.
Organized by Toms @ Dal and students Autumn Grant and Emma LeRo, it allowed others in the Dalhousie community to step back from the stress of exams, be creative, and raise awareness about those who don’t have shoes.
The campus club is run through the Toms Foundation. It has a simple premise: One for One. For every pair of shoes purchased, the foundation donates a pair to a child in need.
In September 2010, the foundation gave out its millionth pair.
Thirty-two pairs of white canvas Toms shoes were ordered for the event, says Grant. Students bought, then customized their own pair of Toms.
“We did a bulk order of the shoes after advertising in the S.U.B. and on Facebook, we have the paint all set up and everyone is just customizing their own shoes,” says Grant. “We have food, and live bands playing, and everyone is having fun.”
The idea for the Style Your Sole event allows students to not only take part in conscientious buying, says LeRo, but also use their creativity as a way of raising awareness.
“For every person here that’s painting a pair of shoes, there’s a pair going to a child that doesn’t have any,” she says. “The idea is just a really creative environment, but it’s for a good cause. This would be fun anyways, but the fact that you know it’s for a good cause, I love that.”
Lizzy Schofding, PR Coordinator from the Toms Shoes headquarters in California, said via email: “Toms grew in large part because of the support from our campus clubs, so the number of pairs of shoes that we have been able to give is a direct result of all of you.”
Working closely with Toms representatives, Grant and LeRo also took part in the Toms One Day Without Shoes Campaign on Tuesday.
“I hope a lot of people are going to be asking why we’re not wearing shoes,” Grant says. “It really just raises awareness about Toms Shoes first off, but most importantly, what it’s like living without shoes, walking around out in the soil, and how painful it is, even.”
LeRo encouraged everyone to take part, even if it meant only slipping off your shoes for a few classes.
Due to the inclement spring weather, not as many students participated as LeRo and Grant had initially hoped. Grant says they were able to get people’s attention using social media and word of mouth.
Schofding says the One Day Without Shoes Campaign has been a great success to date.
“It has become a worldwide event with people young and old participating,” she says. “To make change you have to start with awareness. Whether you participate for ten minutes or the entire day, you will no doubt catch a glimpse of the challenges children without shoes face. This glimpse will spark action, which will create change.”
The Toms @ Dal group hopes to plan bigger and better activities throughout the 2011-12 school year and continue to raise awareness of the One for One campaign and the moral issues related to the Foundation.