Each day, millions of children around the world contract serious infections and diseases because they have no shoes. To help raise awareness of the problem, State Sen. Andrew Rice authored Senate Resolution 43 Thursday declaring April 16, 2009 as "One Day Without Shoes" in the state and asking Senate members and staff to participate in the world-wide event.
"It's sad that in this day and age there are countries with such extreme poverty that people don't even have the basic necessity of shoes to protect their feet. It's one of those things that most Americans take for granted - just think how many pairs of shoes are in our closets. We think of shoes as an accessory to go with an outfit, not as a necessity," said Rice. "I wanted to make my colleagues and other Oklahomans aware of this issue and encourage them to get involved with charities such as that ran by TOMS Shoes."
The "One Day Without Shoes" campaign was organized by TOMS Shoes, which was founded by American Blake Mycoskie after finding children in Argentina who had no shoes to protect their feet. The company has a One for One philosophy in which for every pair of shoes sold, the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in a developing country who would not have access to shoes otherwise. Since its creation, the company has given over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children on four continents. The company plans to give over 300,000 pairs this year.
"In some developing countries, children have to walk for miles for food, clean water, and to seek medical aid. Since they don't have shoes, they get cuts and sores on their feet that can lead to serious infection and disease," said Rice. "Not having shoes not only causes health problems, but social ones as well because often times, these children aren't allowed to attend school barefoot. All of these problems could be solved with one pair of shoes and that's what we're trying to raise awareness of today."
Rice went on to explain that in Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil. Wearing shoes completely prevents the condition.
Rice was joined by a group of barefoot students from various colleges including the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma Baptist University, the University of Oklahoma Tulsa branch and Oklahoma Christian University. Lauren Santore came from the University of Tulsa to share her excitement about Tom's Shoes' One for One program and One Day Without Shoes event.
"We take for granted the availability of shoes, and there are a lot of kids in other countries who just don’t have access and who suffer tremendously from that,” said Santore. “I believe this is going to be really powerful for people in Oklahoma who have never either heard of TOMS or the problems that are happening in other countries because of the lack of shoes.”
Various schools around the state will be participating in the One Day Without Shoes event including Bartlesville High School, Gore High School, Southern Nazarene University, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Northeastern State University, Tulsa University, Oklahoma Christian University, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University among others.
To learn more about the TOMS Shoes One for One program, visit www.tomsshoes.com.