While it’s a little surprising that there is no Tom in TOMS Shoes (the name is derived from the word “tomorrow”), the company continues to live up to its simple, powerful One For One promise- for every pair of shoes a customer buys, TOMS will donate another pair to a person in need.
Get To Know The TOMS Family
The TOMS Giving Back premise comes to life in different ways. TOMS works with non-profit organizations and NGOs as well as organizing its own “Shoe Drops,” where TOMS employees and volunteers get to see the good they are doing firsthand and give out One for One shoes themselves. In 2009, TOMS Shoes also combined grassroots volunteers with celebrity support from Dave Matthews Band to reach several US college campuses on the Vagabond Tour and get students interested in the TOMS Giving Back program. Dave Matthews himself even designed two styles of TOMS Shoes, one for men and another for women, and made them available for purchase at tour dates and the band’s online store.
TOMS uses a 501(c)(3) non-profit affiliate called Friends of TOMS to coordinate its volunteer activities and shoe drops. Since 2006, TOMS has distributed over one million shoes to people who needed them in locales as far-flung as Argentina, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Rwanda, and South Africa. The Santa Monica, CA based company has also provided shoes much closer to home in Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Florida. A shoe drop in 2009 was filmed as part of an AT&T commercial, donating footwear while also spreading the One For One ideal to viewers worldwide.
More recently, TOMS Shoes closed out last year by supplying shoes to children in Honduras with partner Hogar de Niños Enmanuel, an orphanage which is home to 80 children. As detailed on the TOMS Giving Back blog, the event not only highlighted the need for shoes, but their role in education and empowerment. Addressing the children, Volunteer Executive Director Vivian said, “With these shoes comes the responsibility to go to school, to study hard, to treat all of those around you with respect, to be proud of who you are and to go out and do good in your community.”
TOMS Eyewear – More Than Just Shoes
As ubiquitous as TOMS Shoes are in stores both chic and socially conscious, fewer people are aware of the company’s latest project- TOMS Eyewear. It operates on the same One For One premise, but with a crucial difference. When customers buy sunglasses, people in need receive something much more valuable- simple treatments and surgeries to prevent or correct blindness. TOMS Giving Back Partner Dr. Chundak Tenzing says simply, “There is no reason for people to be unnecessarily blind. The majority of blinding conditions in developing countries are either preventable or curable.”
The stylish products which provide the funds for these sight-restoring surgeries aren’t a hard sell, either. Various styles of TOMS Eyewear have been spotted on celebrities such as Jennifer Garner, Elijah Wood, Ellen Pompeo, Jamie Lynn Sigler, and Pete Wentz. The sunglasses are often mentioned by name in and every celebrity plug has the opportunity to turn a paparazzi snapshot into more word of mouth for a generous program that allows customers to look good while they help people on the other side of the globe see again. Mokung, a recipient of a TOMS-supported cataract surgery in Cambodia said it best. “It has been a long time since I could see the little things. Now, I can read the textbooks and make out small letters that I couldn’t see before. Going back to school and being able to see the students, the words, everything – there are no words to express my joy.”