Sunday, April 19, 2015

8,536 Pairs of TOMS Shoes - Mystery Solved

Many of you have heard of TOMS Shoes.  If you haven't, you should.
Many of you have heard the rumor that they donate a portion of the funds from your purchase, but never really knew if it was true.

So let me help you out.  Read on to learn about this amazing initiative, and yes, I can prove it's true!

TOMS is a for-profit company based in Playa Del Rey, California, that operated the now defunct non-profit subsidiary, Friends of Toms. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas.

TOMS have made a name for themselves over the last 10 years, and are a very popular fashion choice all over the world.  They're partnered with over 70 countries to distribute
  • Shoes  -  TOMS has given more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to children in need.
  • Eye Care TOMS Eyewear purchases provide a person in need with a full eye exam by trained medical professionals. Each patient then receives the treatment he or she needs. TOMS supports treatments for three of the most common vision issues: Glasses, Sight Saving Surgery and Medical Treatment
  • Clean Drinking Water  -  Each bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee provides
    140 liters of safe water, a week's supply, to a person in need.
  • Safe Birthing  TOMS Bags purchases support our Giving Partners'
    in delivering the vital materials and training needed to
    help provide a safe birth regardless of the facility.

SO.  Now that you have a better idea of who these guys are, and their initiative, I'm going to paint a picture for you.  Except it's no painting, it's real life, right here in Roatan, Honduras!

From time to time I have the opportunity to volunteer with an AMAZING organization called Because We Care .  BWC was founded by a woman native to the island of Roatan, Nidia Webster.  Nidia's initiative is all about helping the needy. Reaching out into the most REMOTE places all over the Island of Roatan, giving a shoulder and a hand to the those forgotten by our government.  When Nidia isn't running her full time party supply store in town, or focusing on her own 4 children and their school activities, homework and social lives, she's dedicating all of her time to coordinating volunteers and fundraisers to help those in need ALL OVER the island!  Food Drives, school supplies, shoes, sponsoring handmade school desks and more!  She is an amazing woman with a keen talent for pulling together some major efforts.  Imagine running a donation program on an island where few people have transportation, including the volunteers!  It takes a village...

A little girl from the Kindergarten Class in Spanish town.  What a little heart breaker!
The last 2 months the team has visited every single school on the island of Roatan, even out to St. Helene by boat, to size and deliver 8,536 pairs of brand new TOMS shoes.  That's 17,072 feet and 170,720 little piggies!!! 

Getting sizes sorted before the fitting begins in Punta Gorda
The process can be a bit arduous, packing box after box, cramming in tight spaces with little or no facilities, language barriers, lots of sweaty little feet (17,072 to be exact) and humid, hot sun.  But in the end, putting a smile on a little child's face, and watching the instant pride they gain with a pair of brand new shoes that are all theirs, not hand me downs or shared with other siblings, makes it ALL worth it.
The kids love to help us carry boxes.

A local administration monitors the curriculum in each school, to ensure English is also being taught.

Check out my new shoes!
All dolled up!

Honduran children are so beautiful!

Waiting patiently for their turn

Boxes and Boxes Galore

We fitted around 1,000 kids this day

Trying to make it fun for the kids!

CONTACT ME if you'd like to learn more about contributing to the new school desk initiative, school supply donations, health & hygiene donations or actively volunteering during your visit to Roatan.  *Thank you to my friend Debbie-Leigh Crofutt over at Mermaid on a Raft,  and Because We Care Organization for sharing her photos!