Students go barefoot to promote shoe donations, philanthropy

Sammy Caiola

Students gathered at the Rock at 3 p.m. Tuesday in celebration of “One Day Without Shoes,” an international awareness event that encourages people to spend an entire day barefoot.

The event is promoted by TOMS Shoes, a shoe-selling company that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. As of September 2010, the company had donated more than a million pairs of new shoes to children worldwide, according to its website.

Northwestern students who participated in One Day Without Shoes were encouraged to walk the Evanston campus with NUTOMcats, an organization that raises awareness about TOMS shoes and poverty worldwide, said Ryan Arrendell, Medill sophomore and the group’s president. Arrendell founded the group last year.

Walkers started at the Arch and marched through Norris University Center and then the Technological Institute . Several barefoot members of NUTOMcats manned a TOMS table at the Rock throughout the day Tuesday to inform passersby about the event. This is the second year the march has been held at NU.

“People have definitely been giving us looks,” Arrendell said. “It’s a head turner.”

Medill freshman Chelsea Corbin walked the campus barefoot all day sporting a homemade TOMS T-shirt. She said she purchased her first pair of TOMS four years ago and has participated in the event ever since.

“A few years ago, I didn’t know how many people didn’t have shoes and how it affected their lives,” Corbin said. “This is one thing I can do to get TOMS’ name out there. Plus, it’s a pleasant day out.”

Any money that NUTOMcats raises during the year goes to purchasing TOMS shoes and donating them to local children.

NUTOMcats has about 15 members and is currently trying to get Associated Student Government recognition, said Shaun Chaudhary, vice president of the group.

Earlier in the year, the group hosted a bagel sale and donated the profits to TOMS. They also threw a shoe-painting event at the Rock where students could purchase blank TOMS and decorate them.

“Today we show solidarity and support for those kids,” said Chaudhary, a Weinberg sophomore. “I’ve had to walk barefoot here, and it’s been rough, especially with the construction. But these kids have to do it every day and not on smooth terrain – on rocks and dirt.”

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