In recent weeks, Whitney Rhew ’11 and Brianna Howell ’12 have led efforts in partnership with the Office of Ministry and Service, The Union, Uncommon Life Movement and International Justice Mission to collect new shoes for local refugee children, whom they tutor with World Relief, and needy children worldwide. They’re doing this through the TOMS shoe program, a socially conscious shoe company that donates a pair of TOMS shoes for every pair that’s purchased to a needy child. TOMS calls it one for one, and the idea captured the attention of Rhew, a sociology and human resource management major, and Howell, a marketing and global studies/international relations major.
Students have been stationed at The Cage and Kaufman Dining Hall during meal times to take orders for TOMS shoes at a special discounted rate to buyers. Faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in their effort. The deadline for purchasing your pair of TOMS shoes at either of these sites, as well as the Office of Ministry and Service, is 10 a.m. Thursday, May 12. Cash and checks are accepted.
A group order will be placed and the “donated” pairs of shoes will be given to 18 refugee children Rhew and Howell and other North Central volunteers tutor each week. Additional donated shoes will be distributed to needy children around the world.
On Monday, May 30, at 6:30 p.m. in WAC, students have planned a follow-up event they’re calling a Style Your Soles party for the campus community. Everyone who purchased shoes will have received their pair and is invited to the party to decorate and paint their own shoes as well as the shoes for the local children. A documentary about the TOMS projects and mission will be shown during the party. There will also be a drawing; one lucky person will get the shoes they ordered for free.
Rhew says she likes the message TOMS promotes about giving to others and believes “if you have the means to help someone, you should. We’ve developed a special relationship with the kids we tutor and wanted to help them. This seemed a great way to do that.”