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TOMS shoes take first steps on campus

Published: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 20:09

TOMS

Erin Drew

As of next spring, UCF will have an active TOMS Shoes club on campus.

"UCF is a great place to start because it's a big school and a lot of people are already interested in figuring out how to help," future club vice president Emily McGone said.

Founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006, TOMS Shoes is a company that sells shoes to consumers and organizes shoe drops in places like Argentina, Africa and India, according to TOMSshoes.com. With the "One for One" model, each pair of shoes purchased from the company equals one pair given to a child in need.

The TOMS group at UCF had its first TOMS meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Lazy Moon. Despite the technical difficulties that prevented the TOMS documentary from showing, McGone said there was a large turnout.

"It's great to see that the UCF community does support the cause," future club president Stephanie Cohen said.

The documentary screening at Lazy Moon is currently being rescheduled, she said.
With help from the United Nations Association's greater Orlando chapter, UCF TOMS representatives will also be putting on a one-mile barefoot walk in conjunction with a Hanson and Hellogoodbye concert Oct. 24, Cohen said.

"This way people can see what others go through every day," Cohen said.

The walk will begin in front of the Student Union, wrap around Memory Mall and return to its starting point where Hanson will perform an acoustic set, Cohen said.

"Shoes are very common and not something we think about not having," future club secretary, senior Kelly Thibert, said.

Thibert said her concern for the cause is influenced by her studies.  She said since she is pre-med, international health sticks out to her.

One of TOMS main efforts is trying to eliminate podoconiosis, Cohen said.

Podoconiosis, also known as "elephantitis" of the foot, is a disease caused by walking barefoot in silica-rich soil, Cohen said. Over 1 million people are currently suffering from this disease with about 11 million more at risk. Podoconiosis is 100 percent preventable by wearing shoes, according to TOMSshoes.com.

"The main goal of TOMS on campus is to raise awareness and get the name out there," Cohen said. "We have the ability to make an impact."

According to Cohen, in an effort to promote the future club, the representatives are using fliers, Facebook, Twitter and the radio. The representatives will be doing radio spots with local radio stations in upcoming months.

Thibert plans to have two screenings of TOMS documentaries each month at Lazy Moon and Natura Coffee & Tea to spread the word.

"It is really crucial we raise awareness," Thibert said. "[The kids] can't go to school because they don't have shoes."

Planning even further ahead, the representatives will be contacting other TOMS representatives in Florida high schools and universities for support, Cohen said.

"We're going to need all the person power we can get," Thibert said. "Once we're established we'll have weekly meetings, more events and we'll be outside the Union."

Her ultimate goal for the club is to have a school-funded shoe drop, where the club would bring shoes to children in need as a group.

"This is something people can get involved in without spending a lot of money," Cohen said. "Our impact is awareness."

According to Cohen, the best way to be involved with the future club is to help coordinate events. One event taking place next semester is called "Style Your Sole." For this event, club members and friends buy white canvas TOMS shoes and get together to decorate them to express their commitment to the cause, Cohen said. Local artists will be present at the event to help customize shoes. 

"We'll be building community around the shoes and people," Thibert said.

Another event, which will take place on April 16, is the TOMS Shoes official "One Day Without Shoes" event, Cohen said. On this day, TOMS Shoes followers spend the day barefoot.

To find out more about TOMS visit TOMSshoes.com. To find out more about the future club contact the representatives at tomsucf@gmail.com, browse its Twitter page @TOMSUCF or find its fan page on Facebook.


 

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