The Toms shoe company recently started doubling the number of shoes it donates to kids in third-world countries for every purchase made. The esteemed charity-oriented brand still must’ve felt that they weren’t donating enough shoes to completely prevent poverty-stricken citizens from having to purchase ones from local businesses which could potentially thrive and help the economy.
“Toms is doing us a huge favor by giving the whole community more free shoes,” says one South African woman who used to work for a local shoe business before it lost profit. “I’m unemployed now, but I also get a totally free pair of shoes, rather than just the 30% off employee discount.”
As Toms already informs its website viewers, their roughly-$27 shoes are given to children who have to walk to school every day. South African schools already provide kids with free pairs due to the presence of hookworm that can be transmitted by walking barefoot on human fecal matter, but a large percentage of the 1,000 or so students at one school reported that they felt more confident and stylish walking to school in their Toms.
A teacher at this school tells us that hookworm has been a major concern, but the community hasn’t been able to do anything about it.
“Hookworm exists because there’s no sanitary place to go to the bathroom around here,” she says. ”It would be great if we had some adequate latrine facilities, but the $27,000 it would take isn’t free.”
She goes on to say that at least the kids feel more confident as they walk through fecal matter.
The praise didn’t stop there. As is known by the charitable Toms company, the whole community is impoverished and without food and water on most days, which is one reason they targeted this area. Middle schooler, Olabisi, tells reporters that he is always thirsty and hungry, but admiring his Black Chambray Men’s Avalon Slip-Ons and Taupe Leather/Washed Men’s Canvas Paseos helps distract him from his growling stomach for a while.
“We’ve been without water for weeks because the community doesn’t have the piping infrastructure that would allow us access to a water source,” reported a town official. “Sanitation is also too costly for our budget.”
Fortunately, many households have reported that the thin, tightly-knitted fabric of Pastel Lavender Canvas Youth Classics serve as an excellent water filtration device. Mojisola, who attends school with Olabisi, explains how she and her siblings, all recipients of Toms shoes, have been leaving their pairs outside of the mud hut on rainy nights so that water can drip into small bowls they’ve placed under the toe vamps.
“This way we can drink cleaner water that’s probably even enriched with the natural hemp, organic cotton, and recycled polyester that Toms uses,” she says.
“The only problem is that it doesn’t rain frequently enough for us to collect a sufficient amount of drinking water,” says Mojisola’s mom. “Water from the bowls can last us for up to about two, maybe, three days if we ration, but sometimes we don’t even get a sprinkle for days on end due to climate change. I have to give Toms credit for using such environmentally-friendly materials.”
The community overall has voiced its appreciation for the extra pairs, and hopes Toms will continue to manufacture twice the amount of its beloved shoes in large factories and transport them around the world on airplanes and trucks.