Program brings hundreds of pairs of free shoes to Red Cloud

posted on September 28, 2012

The TOMS program paid a visit to Red Cloud today, handing out nearly 500 pairs of free shoes to all students in attendance, as well as staff who wanted them.

For those not familiar with the program, TOMS was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, inspired by a trip to Argentina in which he saw extreme poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking without shoes. That’s when he recognized the traditional Argentine alpargata shoe as a simple, yet revolutionary solution. He quickly set out to reinvent the alpargata for the U.S. market with a simple goal: to show how together, we can create a better tomorrow by taking compassionate action today.

To realize this mission, Mycoskie made a commitment to match every pair of TOMS purchased with a new pair given to a child in need, a program he called One for One. “I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little,” Mycoskie said. “And I was instantly struck with the desire – the responsibility – to do more.”

During its first year in business, TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. Mycoskie returned to Argentina later that year with family and friends and gave back to the children who had first inspired him. Thanks to supporters, TOMS gave the one millionth pair of new shoes to a child in need in September, 2010. TOMS now operates in over 40 countries and works with charitable partners in the field who incorporate shoes into their health, education, hygiene, and community development programs. It has now given out over two million pairs.

In 2007, TOMS was honored with the prestigious People’s Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Two years later, Mycoskie and TOMS received the 2009 ACE award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which recognizes companies’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, innovation, exemplary practices, and democratic values worldwide.

Red Cloud became involved through elementary school counselor Amanda Carlow, who contacted TOMS to ask if Red Cloud qualified to be a recipient school for the One for One program. After she completed the application prospect and Red Cloud was selected, the organization contacted the school administration to set a date.

The Red Cloud students received the TOMS signature black, unisex canvas slip-on shoe. According to the organization’s website, “Black shoes are required for school in many countries, and the sturdy sole allows children to run and play with their feet protected. We've also found that the classic TOMS slip-on style works well, because when shoelaces break, many families cannot afford to replace them.”

When asked later in the day how they liked their new shoes, a group of elementary students grinned widely and gave the thumb’s-up sign. At today’s varsity football game, we expect to see a lot of young spectators strolling around in black TOMS!

To learn more about the TOMS One for One program, click HERE.