A boy in Africa received a pair of shoes today. He can now attend school, protect his feet from contaminated soil, and start taking the small steps necessary to improve his life each and every day.
All because of a pair of shoes.
That little boy received those shoes through the work of the TOMS company and campus TOMS clubs like the one at St. Ambrose University. These clubs serve ti spread awareness of the TOMS cause. Without the help of these small campus operations, TOMS would be unable to deliver on their promise of donating one pair of shoes for every pair purchased.
“I know that my purchase not only benefits me,” SAU TOMS club president Abby Tichler said. “I am also giving a free pair of shoes to someone around the world that desperately needs them.”
TOMS was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie. On a trip to Argentina, Mycoskie saw poverty and squalor throughout the country. Inspired to make a difference, Mycoskie took a traditional Argentine shoe design and reworked it into a product that would appeal to the United States market. He created a charitable (yet still profitable) company in the process. TOMS sells shoes at prices that allow them to be affordable, but still cover distribution via their charity organization, Giving Partners.
Tichler co-founded the SAU TOMS club with fellow Ambrosian Jenny Morris in Feb. 2011. Tichler has enjoyed getting the opportunity to contribute to something larger than the campus club itself.
“The people involved with the TOMS organization are trying to do something great and I want to be a part of it,” Tichler said. “The students involved in the TOMS Club here on campus are great to work with.”
The St. Ambrose branch of the TOMS club is in direct contact with the TOMS company itself, but the parent company only provides suggestions and inspiration. The SAU TOMS club, like thousands of others around the country, operates freely. The group holds events throughout the year that raise awareness of various TOMS causes and products.
“They give us ideas for events and activities,” Tichler said. “The company also sends us things to give out to the student body like fliers, coupons, bags and t-shirts.”
Being involved with the TOMS organization has helped Tichler in her search for a career. The senior English major plans to continue her charitable work after graduation.
“From the moment I understood what TOMS was doing, I knew I wanted to do something similar,” Tichler said. “Over the summer, I read ‘Start Something That Matters’ [by Blake Mycoskie]. I was even further inspired to pursue a career that helps others.”
Tichler is graduating in May, but the TOMS club at St. Ambrose will continue spreading awareness of TOMS and their charitable work.
“We have appointed two new presidents [Tori Jackson and Melissa McConnel] that we are confident will continue the TOMS club,” Tichler said. “We also have a great advisor [Jason Richter] who will encourage the club to continue.”
The group will be holding their annual One Day Without Shoes event on April 16 to raise awareness for their cause. Those interested in getting involved can find more information at the TOMS website or by contacting Tichler through her campus email address.