On Tuesday, April 16, it was evident that an event was taking place on the campus of Springfield College. The usually laidback dress wear that is an accustomed sight was replaced by formal attire as students participated in Scholars in Action Day.
While some students dressed up, there were others who somehow forgot to put on shoes to start their days. The seemingly strange sight was not limited to a single student, as several barefoot pairs of feet could be seen strolling around the campus in complete contrast to the suits and ties.
This was no ordinary group of simply sleepy students who forgot to prepare their feet for the outdoors. Instead, these were students who deliberately exposed their bare feet as part of a worldwide event, One Day Without Shoes, founded by the company TOMS Shoes and promoted on campus by the Springfield College Outreach Committee.
“[One] Day Without Shoes is just a day to bring awareness. It’s to step out of your comfort zone and experience what it’s like to go all day without shoes,” SCOC co-chair and junior Clare Henry said. “It causes people to have a deeper appreciation and even just knowledge, because knowledge is the most powerful thing there is. Without it you can’t cause change.”
Senior Erin Julian experienced that knowledge firsthand as she walked around campus sporting her bare feet.
“The sidewalks were painful because they are rocky and uneven,” Julian said. “From walking around without shoes I learned that we take shoes for granted.”
The change that SCOC hopes to facilitate each year for the past three years that they have hosted this event is simple, yet has a profound impact on the larger world. They believe in the day’s mission that, as Henry puts it, “everyone needs at least one good pair of shoes.”
TOMS Shoes and its founder, Blake Mycoskie, began the event with the help of college campuses in 2008 based on bringing awareness to the company’s mission, which is stated on its website: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.”
Springfield College is just one of more than 500 colleges that participated in the event, which spanned across all 50 states, and 50 countries as well, according to a video created by TOMS Shoes.
The event put on at Springfield College is part awareness, part donation and all outreach. In addition to students raising awareness with their bare feet, members of the club went outside at 6 a.m. to write facts in chalk on the sidewalks around the central part of campus. Two such facts read along the lines of, “If everyone in the world had shoes, it would prevent 1.4 billion cases of parasitic diseases that are obtained through the feet” and “There are 300 billion children without shoes.”
SCOC continues to promote One Day Without Shoes every year because it fits so well into their own mission as a club.
“Part of the Springfield College Outreach Committee is just bringing the awareness,” Henry said. “There’s more going on outside of your bubble, the bubble of Springfield College, the bubble of your hometown. There are issues that need to be tackled.”
The club also put out a donation box for used, but still wearable shoes in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union. As Henry said, most people probably own on average around 10 pairs of shoes at SC, while people in the city and around the world often do not own a single pair.
“Here it’s a standard. In [some] other countries it’s a privilege,” she said.
The collected shoes will be donated to people in need in the city of Springfield. Anyone who would still like to donate a pair of usable shoes can drop them off in the donation box in the Union up until April 20, or contact Clare Henry at email@example.com.