As one of six children, raised by a single parent elementary school teacher I knew well the disappointment of not having the in clothing. Fast forward twenty years to a grad school family with a tight budget and I often find myself focusing on my relative poorness. All things are relative though. In my travels outside of the borders of this country I have often found myself face to face with real poverty, children who spend their days begging or working instead of going to school, poorly clothed, often shoe less regardless of the temperature or environment, distended bellies and bleached out hair due to malnutrition, enough disparity to know that I have spent a life blessed in wealth. Have you ever heard of Toms shoes? It was started by Blake Mycoskie a few years ago. On a trip to Argentina as he befriended local children he was struck by how many of them lacked even a single pair of shoes. The price of shoes, often ones that had to be made outside of the country was too high for many parents. Lack of shoes keep some children out of school, they put them at risk of injury, and in many countries increase the chance that they are going to get parasitic diseases like Podoconiosis (mossy foot), schistosomiasis, tungiasis, hookworm, etc. Blake wanted to do something, and the idea hit him, "What if I start a shoe company that every pair of shoes bought was actually two pairs of shoes bought, one that goes to the client, one that goes to a child in need." He started the company in 2006. As of September 2010 over one million pairs of shoes have been given, which is totally awesome.
To raise awareness to the cause A Day Without Shoes was started. People all over the world go barefoot to show their support. April 5th will be the fourth year, so if you see me walking out the door to speech with no shoes, now you'll know why. May we always be lifted up with how blessed we are and how much we can give, rather then be dragged down with longing for that which we don't need.