“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different . . . because I was important in the life of a child.”

~ Forest E. Whitcraft

Friday, April 24, 2015

Just Desserts: Going Without Shoes

Back before I had kids, a workmate was telling me how expensive it was to send her kids back to school. Even with both parents working for a decent wage,this family struggled to equip their three kids with backpacks, school supplies - and of course, shoes. The school demanded that each child have not one or two, but three pairs of running shoes.

One pair was for outdoor wear (to and from school, plus recess in the school yard.) Another pair was to be worn only in the gym, while a third pair was for the classroom. Really? Did kids seriously need to change shoes to go from the classroom to the gym?

A lot of people take shoes for granted, but parents know they don't come cheap. So it's probably not a stretch for most of us to identify with parents who can't afford to buy those three pairs of sneakers. And probably we can imagine being the parent who maybe can't afford the rain boots or the winter boots, when the time comes for that.

But can we imagine not being able to afford shoes at all?

I personally love to go barefoot whenever I can, but even I appreciate having proper footwear when it's needed. Honestly, even though intellectually I can grasp the fact that many people in the world can't afford shoes, I still have trouble imagining what it must be like to live in a place where this is a common concern.

But it is a reality in many developing countries, and not having shoes to wear is at the root of a number of health risks. Luckily, there are movements afoot (pardon the pun!) that help to raise  awareness about the large number of people around the world who can't afford shoes, and to find ways of providing them with shoes.

This week, TOMS Campus Club marked One Day Without Shoes to educate college students about the issues, and to raise funds for the donation of shoes. There is also a global event that will take place on May 21, 2015. The idea is to spread awareness by going barefoot, and by distributing literature or creating displays, that educate the public about the need for affordable footwear. And TOMS backs that up with their One for One program, which helps one person in need every time someone buys one of their products.

 If you want to get involved, but there are no events near you, there are always opportunities to donate locally.

Most of us have a closet full of kids' shoes and boots that have been worn a few times and then promptly outgrown. Today is the perfect day to sort through them!

Think about your own shoes too. How many shoes do you have that you've never worn? How many that you haven't worn in at least six months, and probably won't wear again in the near future? Set aside anything in good shape that you aren't using.

Where to donate your shoes in your area?
  • Ask if your local school can get shoes to a child who needs them.
  • Donate shoes to local women's shelters, emergency shelters, or clothing rooms.
  • Drop shoes off at a charity thrift shop.
  • Look for a charity that supplies women in need with business attire for job interviews and re-entry into the workplace. Shoes are an integral part of proper business wear.
  • If a local group is collecting prom wear for students in need, take them your fancy shoes. Every young student deserves to feel like a princess - or a prince - from time to time!
Even if you have no used shoes to donate, you can still pitch in. Next time you buy a pair of shoes, pick up a second pair to donate.

If you're concerned the shoes might not fit or the style won't be right, pick up a gift card instead. This is an especially good idea if you are putting together Christmas baskets or filling backpacks with school supplies or personal hygiene products.

Gift cards allow recipients to choose their own shoes and be sure of a good fit. You may even be able to get the gift cards at a reduced cost if your organization plans to include one in each package they assemble.
    This content is copyrighted, and is adapted from an earlier work by the author. Please feel free to share by sending others a link to this page, or contact the author about purchasing reprint rights.

    No comments: