Forty percent of people in the world don’t have shoes, according to TOMS Shoes. That is well over the percentage of people in the world who have AIDS, who are illiterate and who are malnourished combined. In many countries, walking is the primary mode of transportation, so people who go barefoot often get cuts and sores on their feet. These sores can lead to dangerous infections.
With shoes, a person can walk further on unpaved roads to receive food, water or medical aid. Without shoes, many children cannot attend school. In countries like Ethiopia, numerous people have to work in areas with volcanic soil, and they contract diseases such as podoconiosis, which causes deformities in the feet and legs as a result of swelling and ulcers. Over one million people in Ethiopia are affected with this disease, and it is completely preventable by wearing shoes.
For these reasons, in 2006 Blake Mycoskie decided to found TOMS Shoes, a company that for every pair of shoes they sell, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need. One for One. And now, Hockaday is becoming the first school in the United States to participate in the TOMS mission. TOMS shoes will be coming to the Hockaday hallways next year.
Dean of Students Meshea Matthews has been collaborating with the TOMS creative team for months to come up with a shoe model for Hockaday girls. Finally, the shoe has now become a reality. The idea of bringing TOMS to Hockaday began when founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, spoke at Hockaday during an assembly last year.
When Mycoskie was at Hockaday, says Matthews, “I saw this as an opportunity for you guys. You guys were excited to have a rock star on campus.” Matthews worked with the creative team at TOMS to create a specific custom shoe for Hockaday students and another shoe for Hockaday alumnae. She also coordinated with TOMS vice president of sales, Jill Dilorio.
“[Dilorio] and I were the ones to coordinate this opportunity for Hockaday and brainstorming and thinking how we can challenge schools not only in the local area but across the country to meet us as we launch the first school campaign,” says Matthews.
“Hockaday’s commitment to community involvement is exemplary,” adds Dilorio, “and we know that the Hockaday girls will respond equally as strong to the needs of children in other counties.”
Of the new shoes, junior Madeline says, “I was so surprised to hear about this news. I truly think it is one of the best decisions Hockaday has made! I’m so excited to be able to help out such a great organization through my school; it’s a great opportunity!”
Sophomore Virginia adds, “I think it’s a great way to incorporate ‘fashion’ into Hockaday and help people at the same time!”
At Hockaday, students will be able to wear the custom Cordonne style shoe everyday. Alumnae can purchase either the classic style TOMS shoe or the Cordonne style. Both shoes are custom made and colored with the official Hockaday green. However, they differ in shape. Dilorio says, “I can’t wait to come visit the school next fall and see the halls filled with TOMS!”
Because TOMS has to shut down all other shoe production in order to make the Hockaday shoes, the logistics of ordering are still being worked out. Since the shoes will be made just for the Hockaday community, Matthews says, “It is important that we do this the right way and be specific about how we move forward.”
“I’m a big picture thinker,” continues Matthews. In fact, she foresees many new possibilities for Hockaday students if the campaign takes off. Such ideas include a shoe drop in which Hockaday students would participate or a partnership with another girls’ school that needs aid. These ideas are still in the works.
“We are the largest girls school in the country,” says Matthews, “and to me, we have an obligation and we can meet that with this [opportunity].” Dilorio agrees. “The TOMS One for One movement is driven by sharing the TOMS story with friends, family and colleagues,” she says. “There is no question in my mind that the young women at Hockaday will take the TOMS message and spread it like wildfire.