TOMS Shoe Sale Steps Up Poverty Awareness



The theme was “fashion with a cause” in the Coop last Wednesday, except the big television wasn’t showing models strutting down a catwalk, but rather several young adults playing with and giving shoes to several South African children. Tons of pairs of similar looking shoes were displayed on tables all around the room. The event was a TOMS Shoes sale and decorating party sponsored by Amnesty International. TOMS is an organization that makes and sells shoes, and for every pair they sell one is donated to an under-privileged child in accordance with their tagline, “One for One.” Most recently, TOMS has made “shoe drops” in Argentina and South Africa, and are planning on extending their work to poverty-stricken areas in the United States.

Amnesty International held a TOMS Shoes sale in the spring of last year as well.

“It was our first time bringing them, and it went really well; we sold 75 pairs and really got the word out about the organization,” junior Courtney Walsh said. Walsh has been involved with the TOMS organization since high school and is currently a TOMS Campus Intern and will be going on a “shoe drop” to Argentina this summer.

“At first I just thought that the shoes are really cute, but then I heard about what they did and realized what a great cause it is,” Walsh said. “These people go all around the world to help kids who are getting horrible infections and diseases because they don’t have shoes. And sometimes they aren’t even allowed to go to school since school uniforms require shoes.”

The “Style Your Sole” party is an event TOMS started not too long ago. Members of the organization, suitably named “Vagabonds,” travel around different parts of the country sponsoring and setting up the parties. They supply white canvas shoes for $40 a pair and the hosts of the occasion provide decorating materials. It is supposed to “bring people together and let them express themselves while supporting a good cause,” according to the TOMS website, Walsh and the rest of Amnesty International had set up several tables with markers, glitter, fabric and other supplies. They also had regular TOMS shoes for sale, food and an informational playing so people could eat and decorate while learning about the group.

“We’ve realized that it is going to be hard to sell shoes because of the economic condition and everything, but we’ll just see how it works out,” Walsh said.

Walsh’s ideal next step as a Campus Intern is to establish a TOMS club at Colgate. She realizes that Amnesty International has a lot of different focuses and did not want to make it solely centered around TOMS all the time. However, TOMS is a widely recognized, large organization and supports such an important cause that she believes it could be a viable club at the school on its own.

“I’d love to work with Greek life and have shoe sales through frats or sororities. Also we could do events with other clubs like Students for Environmental Awareness because TOMS has vegan and organic shoes now,” Walsh said.

She will be going abroad next semester, but hopes to get the club permanently instituted during her senior year.