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Discovering One for One with TOMS Shoes

TOMS1TOMS is an internationally known company. Best known for its shoes, the company also sells eyewear, coffee and bags, promising to help a person in need through its One for One movement. I own a pair of TOMS myself and they travel with me everywhere.

While we were docked in Cape Town I had the opportunity to experience One for One in action. We met up with several different representatives from Rotary International Chapters around Cape Town. Rotary International is a service organization that works to bring together business professionals to do humanitarian work in their communities. Partnering with the Rotarians made our experience better than any other service trip I have been on because we visited projects that they have built relationships with over many years.

Toms Shoes 2(1)Our first stop was the Christine Revel Children’s Home. They house abandoned children up to age 5. We carried boxes of new TOMS Shoes up to a second story play area where the kids were waiting for us. They were rambunctious, a tiny boy latched on to me immediately because I was wearing the same color shirt as him.Their teacher had them sit against the wall, but as soon as we opened the boxes of shoes they swarmed us again with excitement.

Judith, a spokesperson from the  partner organization in Johannesburg, South Africa flew down just to make sure our day went smoothly. She told me that with the help of TOMS, they have distributed over 1 million shoes within South Africa. Once a family or organization is in the program, children can keep receiving shoes even if they grow out of them. She also told me that TOMS visits regularly to evaluate what is going well and to make changes based on what isn’t.

Our second shoe distribution was at a local preschool in one of the townships outside of Cape Town. We were there on a Saturday so the teacher had the parents bring their children to school just to see us. I sat on the ground with a pile of shoes and numerous kids surrounding me, eager to be fitted for new TOMS. Once a child had their new TOMS Shoes, they started running and playing, surrounding those of us still fitting shoes in a cloud of joyous noise. It was so fulfilling, to be able to physically put a pair of shoes on a child’s foot. 

Though I own a pair of TOMS and have always supported the company, it was an incredible experience to see their mission unfold in person. You don’t realize the value of a pair of shoes until you are among people that truly don‚Äôt take them for granted.

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