Dressing (and texting) for a Cause
Nov. 25, 2008 -- Using popular forms of communication like text messaging and Facebook a new shoe company has made a successful name for themselves; all while donating 70,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.
TOMS Shoes, a company that started in 2006 with the simple concept of donating a pair of shoes for every one purchased, passed through Gunnison this past week, stopping at the Student Center at Western State College. The stop was part of the company’s cross-country tour effort to sell 30,000 shoes so that they can give the same number away.
Josh Owen, an employee of TOMS, explained the original thought behind the founding of the company. The founder, Blake Mycoskie, was traveling through South America and he noticed that “shoe drives” to collect footwear for children consisted of old shoes. “His thought was why give kids old shoes when we could give them new shoes,” Owen said.
In the first six months of operation, TOMS had already delivered 10,000 shoes to children in South America.
TOMS Shoes is a for-profit business that connects with local representatives, primarily at colleges, to host sales of the shoes. A non-profit branch of the company researches where the shoes will be donated. At these events, like the one held at WSC this past Friday, people can decorate the shoes however they would like with paint and other supplies provided by the company.
Dave Dunmyre, a WSC sophomore, is the local representative for TOMS Shoes. Dunmeyer was connected on Facebook.com, a networking website that has exploded in popularity in recent years. He already was a fan of the style of the shoes and helped bring TOMS to the WSC campus.
TOMS has also embraced text messaging, or texting, to spread the word. Currently they have a “text campaign” that people find out about after purchasing a pair of shoes. By texting the name of the company to a number, the customer is automatically entered into a drawing where the winner gets an all-expense paid trip to Argentina to help deliver shoes to children.
Brittney Jeck, a WSC junior, bought a pair of the least expensive models in the line of shoes: a hybrid between canvas shoes and sandals. She liked the creative design and will be giving them to her sister for Christmas. “It’s a good cause. And with the upcoming holiday season it’s cool to give someone something that also helps someone else.”
For more information about TOMS Shoes and their humanitarian projects go to www.TOMSshoes.com.
Story by: Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations