Alleviating poverty ~ one pair of shoes at a time

By Dian Hasan | September 7, 2010

Sometimes the inspiration to a higher calling, can stem from such simple daily objects, or from one’s own personal tragedy. But as stories like these will demonstrate, it is people like this – with their ironclad determination – that truly make a difference in the world. These are commendable examples of ordinary citizens taking on extraordinary tasks of alleviating poverty and suffering, through very original ideas.

One such person is Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas. His weapon of choice? Shoes!

Mycoskie was struck by the condition of children without shoes that he saw during his many travels in the developing world. It was also during his travels that Mycoskie stumbled upon traditional shoes in Argentina. Inspired by the shoes’ design, Mycoskie tinkered with the shoe design and set up TOMS Shoes in Santa Monica, California. From inception, Mycoskie built in a charity component, through his non-profit subsidiary, donates a new pair of shoes for a child in need.

Who knew a pair of shoes could make such a formidable impact. By year end 2010, TOMS Shoes is forecast to have donated their new goal of 1,000,000 (one million) shoes!

”I always thought I would spend the first half of my life making money and the second half giving it away. I never thought I could do both at the same time.” ~ Blake Mycoskie

As seen in TOMS’ website:

Why ShoesOne for One

In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.

Why Shoes?

Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:

  • A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
  • Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
  • Many times children can’t attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school. If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the opportunity to realize their potential.
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