COLUMBIA — With a wind chill in the 30s on Friday, it was a sacrifice for 65 students to go to class at MU barefoot.
It was a show of support for the mission behind TOMS shoes: To raise awareness about children around the world who don't have shoes. The California-based company brought their shoes and message to MU’s campus Friday afternoon.
“I woke up to a text that said, ‘My feet are numb!’” said Aleigh McKay, the MU campus representative for TOMS shoes. Members of the Bare Feet Team also wore shirts around campus that said “Bare Feet for Their Feet” that described the details of the event.
The "Style Your Sole" shoe decorating event, held in Memorial Union, let students use feathers, glitter and paint to adorn their new and old TOMS shoes. For every pair of new shoes purchased, a pair is donated to a child somewhere who needs them.
“It’s an artistic expression and a way to help out others – the point is to decorate them, to make them your own while helping people that need it,” said Katelyn Morman, an MU student who prepared to decorate her new TOMS shoes.
“I heard about TOMS in 2006 when it first began. I was in high school, and I just fell in love. Helping others is something I’m so passionate about,” McKay said. She said she thinks so many people are motivated to support the company’s mission because the reward is tangible.
“It’s equal: One for one,” said Emily Vick, an MU student who said she decided to come to the event when she noticed people walking around campus barefoot Friday. She said the shoes are a little expensive, “but I am so impressed by how many people are here buying shoes for those in need.”
TOMS donates the shoes to children in Argentina, South Africa and the U.S.
“We placed fliers about the event in every MU residence hall mailbox,” said Megan Pieper, who worked to organize the event. She also said she worked with other organizations and utilized Facebook for promotion of the event.
TOMS has donated over 85,000 pairs of shoes since the company was formed, and the most recent "shoe drops" have been brought to U.S. children in Mississippi, Florida and Kentucky. Their current goal is to distribute 300,000 pairs of shoes within the next year.