Ninety pairs of new shoes are making their way to the feet of deserving Joliet-area children. Over the last two months, University of St. Francis students raised money on campus and across Will County to purchase 90 pairs of TOMS Shoes for local children. Why 90 pairs? Because the university is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. And, why TOMS Shoes? Because when you purchase a pair of TOMS Shoes, the company donates another pair to a child in need somewhere in the world. In effect, the project gave 180 pairs of shoes to children in need.
Freshmen Jessica Nayder and Nicole Gorsegner, members of the university’s Duns Scotus honor society, delivered the shoes Thursday to the Catholic Charities’ HeadStart Program, The DayBreak Center and the university’s Health and Wellness Center. Kathleen McGowan, executive director for Catholic Charities, said she was pleased to partner with USF on the shoe project.
“This project was a great way for us to be able to assist some of our own program participants and know that while their needs are being taken care of, some children in other parts of our world are receiving much needed shoes,” she said.
The deliveries made Thursday were done barefoot in keeping with the TOMS Shoes’ One Day Without Shoes campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life. Nayder, of Mokena, said delivering the shoes barefoot was challenging and further proved the importance of a good pair of shoes.
“I think that these shoes are going to mean everything to the children,” she said. “These shoes are going to show the children that we as the University of St. Francis care about them and that they have not been forgotten.”
USF students decorated about 40 pairs of the shoes with fabric markers and paint. These custom shoes designs featured polka dots, stripes, flames, bugs, flowers, frogs and more. McGowan said she was impressed by the amount of time spent and the selflessness of the USF students. “It is a wonderful sign that young people really care about those in the community who have less,” she said.
USF’s TOMS Shoes project was inspired by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, who spoke on campus in March.