MU students go barefoot for poverty awareness

Thursday, April 8, 2010 | 6:46 p.m. CDT; updated 4:51 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 9, 2010
MU Sophmore Jessica Smith and freshman Jordan Hazelwood paint their feet during the MU One for One meetup at Tiger Plaza, on Thursday, April 8.

COLUMBIA — Going barefoot wasn't easy for the 45 MU students who participated in a mile-long barefoot walk Thursday afternoon.

The nationwide barefoot day was made local by students in One for One, an organization started at MU by Aleigh McKay and Megan Pieper. Both women are former campus representatives for TOMS shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair purchased and established the One for One movement.


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The students in One for One, which was founded in 2009, used the event to generate awareness of poverty in the Columbia area. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 14,670 people (19.2 percent) of Columbia's population falls below the poverty line — a number that translates into 1,658 families.

Money raised throughout the year by One for One will be used to buy and donate shoes to Sol House, a transitional living program for homeless youth in Columbia.

The mile-long walk through campus allowed the students to show their support and promote awareness of the organization. Taped to the sidewalk were inspirational quotations and facts about foot diseases contracted in the Third World.

It was 60 degrees during the walk, which started at Tiger Plaza around 3 p.m. Some students, however, went barefoot the entire day, which didn't start off that warm.

"My feet were completely numb," freshman Bethany Weathers said about the cold walk to class in the morning. "But I can put on a brave face and do it for the day."

Weathers had also painted "Barefoot for a Day" on the soles of her feet to bring awareness to those who are barefoot everyday.

Shannon Whitney, member of One for One and organizer of the walk, said she hoped the event would inspire students to get involved and be more aware of childhood poverty.

"There are places in the world where children are unable to go to school because they don't have shoes," Whitney said.

"We don't get to see what these kids are going through," said Caitlin Miller, a One for One member and MU sophomore. "It makes it a reality."

One for One is also using the week as an unofficial TOMS shoe week. 

Along with the walk, students were able to participate in activities such as a cakewalk, foot painting, and bracelet making. The week's final event is a free benefit concert, which will be held at 8 p.m. on Sunday at The Underground Cafe, 111 S. Ninth St.


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