Students walk barefoot for cause

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Students interested in social justice will be walking around Manhattan today with an unusual fashion statement — or lack thereof. These students will be going barefoot, as part of the TOMS campaign, “A Day Without Shoes.”

“I didn’t get to go last year, so I’m just excited to see who turns up,” said Kate Hambleton, junior in theatre. “TOMS has really grown over the past couple of years, so there may be people that hadn’t even heard of it last year, but they know about it now, and I think that’s awesome.”

TOMS is an organization that combines trendy, unique shoes with a philanthropic purpose. For every pair of TOMS shoes a customer buys, the company gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need – one for one.

For “A Day Without Shoes,” participants at colleges and high schools in cities across the United States are banding together for a 1-mile barefoot walk.

Ashley Kracht, junior in fine arts and second-year campus representative for TOMS, said the key to the event is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Although, in this case, that “someone else” is someone who doesn’t have any shoes.

“If these people without shoes have bad weather, they don’t have a choice. They have to walk, and under a lot worse conditions than we ever have to,” Kracht said. “On the barefoot walk, we’ll have sidewalks and streets, but these people are walking on volcanic soils to get to school.”

Beyond raising awareness for the shoeless, the event will raise money so that their predicament will not only be noticed, but be changed. This opportunity for change comes from a band that some students may remember as the girly guys who sang “MMMBop” back in the 90s — Hanson.

Though many have forgotten Hanson even existed, the band is actually a “really big supporter” of TOMS Shoes, said Ashley Kuegler, junior in anthropology and mass communications. Hanson will be donating $1 to TOMS for every participant who walks the barefoot mile.

“The more people that come to the walk, the more money TOMS will raise. Thus, the more shoes will be given to these kids,” Kracht.

Kracht said more than 100 students attended last year’s barefoot walk, so she is hoping for at least 200 participants today. The walk is free, and it is set to begin at Bosco Plaza at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit www.toms.com.

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