Did you wear shoes today?
It seems like a silly question. It is April, after all. But for hundreds of millions of people around the world–and for quite a few of us here at Heifer–the answer is no.
Today is One Day Without Shoes, a global awareness-raising event put on by TOMS. The idea is to get people talking about what it's like to be shoeless. For those of us at Heifer headquarters in Little Rock, it was pretty easy. Sure, we've got a little gravel in the parking lot, but we're otherwise on brushed concrete, carpet and bamboo floors (which are nice on the feet, by the way).
Many of our project participants worldwide, however, have to contend with much harsher and more dangerous conditions. Dirt, mud, manure, glass, rocks, parasites. Imagine your children walking barefoot for a mile or two to collect water every day.
I participated in ODWS last year, but there weren't many other Heifer colleagues in on the action. This year, we had a bit of a fundraising challenge going. Using Team Heifer, we've already raised well over our goal of $500 (money is still coming in). While shoelessness isn't something we directly address with our mission, Heifer's work helps families increase their income. And improved clothes (including shoes) are near the top of the list of things families buy when that extra money comes in.
By donating one day of bare feet, we stand in solidarity with our project participants and with the millions of other people for whom shoes are a luxury. We wish TOMS all the best and hope you will consider making your next shoe purchase a pair of TOMS, because One for One sounds a lot like Passing on the Gift to me!