The Faculty Club was buzzing with anticipation on Tuesday evening as student leaders gathered to receive Blake Mycoskie—owner, founder, and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes—before his lecture at Gusman Hall.
Blake Mycoskie is a paragon of philanthropic business, giving away one pair of TOMS Shoes to a child in need for every shoe purchased from his stores. Through his One For One campaign, Mycoskie has managed to shoe over 160,000 children throughout parts of Argentina, Ethiopia, China, South Africa and the United States, with an estimated projection of 300,000 shoes given away this year.
After spending a month in Argentina one summer, he had a chance meeting with two girls who were involved in a shoe drive. After gathering old, fairly used shoes and giving them away to children in poverty, Mycoskie had a vision for the Shoes For Tomorrow Project.
“It’s a beautiful story that connects people directly with the cause. You know that your money equal one pair of shoes, and that your purchase makes a difference,” says Ashley Valdes, sophomore, after the lecture.
This prototype of TOMS developed after he learned that children could not go to school without shoes in many countries, and most children had never had a pair of shoes in their life. Not only does the simple lack of shoes hinder a child’s future, but it exposes them to debilitating diseases such as Podoconiosis—a form of Elephantitis caused by a fungus that gets into the pores of the feet and eventually destroys the lymphatic system—which can be prevented entirely by wearing shoes.
“That’s when my life really changed; when I went to Argentina and I placed the shoes on the children’s feet,” Mycoskie said.
The company quickly grew, and TOMS Shoes and its volunteers have been participating in Shoe Drops almost every week of the year. He attends as many of these as he can.
“I have the greatest job in the world,” Mycoskie said.
To learn more about TOMS Shoes, visit www.tomsshoes.com.