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Students raise awareness sans shoes in global event

Jillian Barwick | Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The chill felt around South Bend on Tuesday did not keep Saint Mary’s students from spending a day without wearing shoes.

A global event sponsored by the footwear company TOMS, “One Day Without Shoes” is a day where groups of people walk around barefoot to raise awareness for people who cannot afford shoes.

According to the event’s website, health and education are major concerns for those without shoes. Millions of children are at risk of injury, disease and soil-transmitted infections, the website said. In some areas, shoes are required for children to attend school.

“Four million people have podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by living barefoot in volcanic soil,” the website said. “740 million people are affected by hookworm, a soil-transmitted parasite that can cause intestinal pain, weakness and cognitive impairment.”

After learning about the event, senior Hannah Hupp decided Saint Mary’s should get involved in “One Day Without Shoes.”

“I was just searching around on the TOMS website one day, looking around for possible job openings with the company,” Hupp said. “I saw the link to sign groups up to participate and thought that it would be a great event to have at Saint Mary’s.”

“The website has a tool kit for those who are looking to hold the event with their group,” Hupp said. “It was really helpful to have.”

After speaking with the Student Government Association, Hupp received the go-ahead to organize “One Day Without Shoes” on campus.

The event included handing out T-shirts designed by TOMS to students who entered the Student Center barefoot.

“We had a great turnout,” Hupp said. “All 300-plus shirts were gone by 3:30 p.m. to only girls with no shoes on.”

Students walked across campus barefoot, some wearing socks and others completely barefoot. While they were not allowed to enter the dining hall barefoot, all other campus buildings were open to those participating in the event.

“By giving out all the shirts, over 300 girls were braving the bitter cold weather to make a change,” Hupp said.

Contact Jillian Barwick at [email protected]