Students go barefoot to raise awareness

More than 200 St. Thomas students joined millions of others across the globe on April 10 to participate in the One Day Without Shoes national campaign.

The campaign has been greatly supported over the last few years at St. Thomas.

Senior Laura Blaser, Students for Justice and Peace club student coordinator, worked directly with the shoe company, TOMS, to organize the event that asks participants to take their shoes off and go barefoot for a day.

“This year we were selected to be one of the large national hosts, which is a huge deal, and we are really excited about it,” Blaser said.

St. Thomas was chosen as a national host because of its success in past events. This year, participants braved the wind and cold temperatures to show their support for the cause.

“It’s a little bit chilly today, so I think we are definitely showing solidarity,” Blaser said. “One Day Without Shoes raises awareness toward the children who go every day without shoes. Without shoes, these children can’t go to school because uniforms require shoes. Also, they are at risk of contracting feet-related diseases and things like that.”

The event did not raise any money; its only purpose was to bring attention to the children who are not fortunate enough to have shoes.

Blaser said she supports this cause because TOMS works for something greater than a profit.

“TOMS is a shoe company that does One for One. One for One is that you buy a pair of shoes and they donate a pair of shoes to children in Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and even rural parts of the United States,” Blaser said. “Also, they actually physically go and donate the shoes themselves. They’re not just shipping the shoes off and saying have at it.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Phyle, who has participated in the event for two years, said it makes her realize that she’s blessed.

“You don’t have to think about that kind of stuff like, ‘Oh, is there glass? Am I going to get hurt from walking to class today?’ And I always have the benefit of wearing shoes, and I don’t ever have to worry about that kind of stuff,” Phyle said.

Katie Zeuli, co-organizer of One Day Without Shoes, agrees that the event helps make students aware of how lucky they are.

“It’s just a great cause that shows students that the world is bigger than our campus,” Zeuli said.

Olivia Detweiler can be reached at