It's Always the Quiet One

Rambling about life, culture, Project Runway, and the occasional fruity drink.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Something that REALLY matters

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, a day when we take a moment and remember all the things we are grateful for in our lives. Hopefully we also give a thought to those in our country and other parts of the world who don’t have it as good as we do, and how we might help. We all know that there are a lot of things in the world that need fixing. It seems like every day some celebrity is throwing a party to benefit this, or a golf tournament to benefit some other thing. Perhaps they donate a personal effect or something they created to an auction to benefit charity. (I looked up celebrity charity work on Google and found a ton of things like that – CD’s, t-shirts, lunchboxes....) Or maybe they just show up at a premiere or awards show wearing a ribbon to show support for a cause. That’s all good. I definitely applaud those who use their celebrity to spotlight issues (and not those who use the issue to get the spotlight on themselves).

Here’s one I read about recently that impressed me a lot, but you might not have heard about. TOMS Shoes, created by entrepreneur and Amazing Race contestant Blake Mykoskie, donates a pair of shoes to a child in an impoverished country for each pair purchased through their website or in the few stores that carry them. The company has already done one ‘shoe drop’ in Argentina, the country that inspired Mykoskie to create the design for TOMS slip-on shoes.

This fall TOMS partnered with indie band Hanson to sell shoes at each of the shows on Hanson’s fall tour. In addition to providing shoes for fans to purchase, the Hanson guys did a one-mile walk with fans prior to each show to raise awareness for the TOMS mission. Hanson usually walked barefoot, and encouraged other walkers to do the same. Sure, a mile on dirty American city streets is nothing compared to a child who has to walk around all day every day with bare feet, but it gave the walkers an idea of what it would be like. Hanson might not be as much in the public eye as they were when they were younger, but they are very passionate about this cause, and have a large and loyal fanbase that they were able to inspire to action, which helped TOMS meet its goal of 50,000 pairs of shoes.

This past week, the TOMS staff and Hanson have been in South Africa to personally fit children with the shoes. One of the photographers traveling with them has posted video and photos on his blog here. You can also see some videos that explain how Hanson got involved with the project here. Having been a teacher for many years and having a soft spot in my heart for children, it was very touching to me to see these photos and videos. Each individual that bought a pair or two of shoes may have done a small thing, but add up all the small things and you get something huge that is benefiting so many children.

Learning about this amazing effort made me ask myself, "What have I done today?" So I decided to do a small thing and write about it, to bring more people’s attention to the good work that these people are doing. After all, it’s not the size of the step you take, it’s the fact that you take it.


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