TOMS is once again challenging folks to go one day without shoes to better understand what it's like for hundreds of millions of children in developing countries who are forced to walk for miles without shoes in order to access life's essentials like water, food, school and medical help. As you may have expected, doing so is not only painful and exhausting, but it exposes them to a host of soil-transmitted diseases that they cannot afford to treat.
If you're familiar with the TOMS brand (which most people are, considering they are literally EVERYWHERE), then you know that TOMS will buy one pair of shoes for a kid in need for every pair that is bought. While I absolutely love that concept and TOMS' commitment to keeping children healthy and safe, I couldn't help but be a bit skeptical when I first heard of the "One day without shoes" campaign. Knowing the brand and the people it attracts (which includes myself), it's hard not to immediately picture a bunch of hemp-necklaced hippies soaking up the opportunity to go all day sans shoes while feeling superior to the rest of us who are required by our jobs to wear shoes. After all, while it is certainly an educational tool to better understand how grueling it is to go barefoot all day, is it truly helping the kids in need?
Truthfully, the campaign really only works (in my opinion) if unsuspecting folks participate - the people who wear full business suits on their way to work for "the man" and are dressed to the nines... right down to their bare feet. At that point, I think this method actually works...
While the concept is simply not feasible for most of us that work in offices with dress codes, I'm going to attempt to test it out at some point during the day. I find the whole campaign particularly amusing from the perspective of runners who adhere to the "minimalist movement" - who oftentimes pay upwards of $100 for shoes that simulate running barefoot. I can only imagine how confused the kids in need would be if we tried to explain that concept to them - that runners actually CHOOSE to run barefoot. [And just a sidenote here: Not that I know from much experience, but I think the minimalist movement is pretty cool as a runner and I am, by no means, hatin' on it. Just simply pointing out the irony with respect to the TOMS campaign]
Even if going shoeless isn't your cup of tea, it's always nice knowing that TOMS will make the charitable effort for you each time you buy a pair of (absurdly comfortable) shoes. I'll be giving the barefoot running thing a try - maybe while sporting one of the "One for One" tees? Anyone else going to give it a go?