The older I get, the more I feel the need to have those three things in my life. I'm not a big fan of "things" and I don't feel the need to spend lots of money to keep up with the Jones's or to be in with the most current trends. I had heard about Tom's but had also found them to be more expensive than my budget would allow. Besides, they were ugly!
I am a sucker for comfort, though, and a couple of my co-workers ranted and raved about how much they loved the comfort of their Tom's. I had also heard that Tom's gives away a pair of shoes for each pair purchased. So, when I saw Whole Foods was having a 20% off sale on their Tom's, I decided to invest. They're comfortable, trendy (despite their unattractive nature), *and* on sale. I had to try them.
Two days later, I'm absolutely sold on them--not only because they're so unbelievably comfortable that I keep them on even while I'm sitting around at home, but also because I love their concept. It's a for-profit company with giving built into the original business model. In other words, their charity is sustainable. The founder isn't saying, "If I make over a billion dollars this year, I'll give a few poor kids shoes." The founder isn't saying that he personally has to have X dollars in order to live to his comfort standard. The founder said from the beginning that the whole model would be built on giving away a pair of shoes for every pair sold. I guess he could go back on his word and say he wants all of the profit from those shoes he's giving away, but I don't see that as very likely...or very smart.
I decided to watch the documentary that Tom's encourages you to screen at your home with friends (it's the one at the top of this blog). I love documentaries so I truly enjoy the fact that my shoes are connected with something that is so meaningful and purposeful. Having been to Africa, I witnessed people without shoes who are exposed to the "jigger." You can read more about it and watch a short, but unsettling video of the explanation (scroll to the bottom) here: http://www.digidrift.com/jiggers-chigoe-flea-the-hidden-african-killer/. Many Africans die from jiggers, death which could be prevented.
Though shoes aren't the only solution, people without shoes are definitely more exposed to potential hazards. I am thankful for all of my material and non-material blessings that I'm granted on a daily basis. Hopefully with my new purchase, I can also be thankful that one more child somewhere on another continent is receiving something to be thankful for as well.
Why Shoes? Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:
- A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
- Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
- Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.