How shoes are bringing joy to students in our community

The Challenging Heights bus pulls up to the school filled with boxes of new TOMS shoes and children all look out their classrooms while erupting in applause. Cheers, smiles, and clapping are coming from every classroom. The students know their school is next to be receiving their shoes. It never fails to put a smile on our faces knowing how excited the students are to receive a nice pair of shoes…maybe their only pair of shoes.

We begin with the kindergarten classrooms and as soon as their respective teachers let them out they sprint with smiles on their faces to line up for their own pair of shoes.

Some children run to the line with one shoe on and one shoe in their hand, others throw their shoes to the side and still others come to the line with no shoes but simply because they do not have any.

Recently, a headmaster at a local public school commended the work we were doing in distributing TOMS shoes. He said that students used to come to school with broken slippers (flip-flops), or worn out shoes, while sadly others wouldn’t have any. He says he saw those same children feel ashamed of not having a pair of shoes and he sees those same children now walking around with more confidence and pride. “I’m going to have my whole school write you letters.”

We see these children with no shoes or whose shoes have holes in the sides and soles, with their laces tied together through scraps of other broken laces…To see their faces light up and to know that this child can finally have a new pair of shoes is worth the hardships in delivery such a huge amount of shoes. We know that children will feel better about coming to school and there is some financial relief for the parents.

We began with 40,000 pairs of new TOMS shoes and we would be lying to say that it has been easy in getting them to so many children. Day after day our field operations team embarks to distribute the shoes at different schools. When the delivery truck broke down the team still found a way to get shoes to the school.

One of our field officers said that her favorite part about the distribution is when the students come for their new shoes and they get so excited they forget about their old shoes. “We sometimes have to call them back and remind them they are still their shoes too.”

One young boy in class 5 at a local school was so happy to have a pair of shoes. He only had a pair of worn down slippers. He also said they would be nice for when he is playing outside on school break because things won’t hurt his feet so much. After receiving the TOMS shoes he promised to polish them and keep the safe.