Barefoot for a cause
Ellen Barker is celebrating One Day Without Shoes with people around the country this week. But she has a special reason to celebrate that only comes around once in a lifetime.
Barker, a sophomore accounting major at High Point University, is president of the TOMS Campus Club and will be one of 50 people to travel to Nicaragua this summer to distribute shoes to less-fortunate children. She was hand-selected by the company without having to go through the normal process.
“Usually people have to create a submission, which I did, and then there’s a voting period,” Barker said. “But before the voting period, I got a call from TOMS executives for a Skype meeting. They said they had been following my activity the last couple years, and they were giving me a Ticket to Give. It was so unexpected, I start bawling.”
TOMS, the shoes and accessories company started by Blake Mycoskie, was founded on the “One for One” motto so every time someone purchases a pair of TOMS shoes, a pair is given to a child in need. Shoes can help protect against injury, and in combination with basic hygiene and sanitation, help prevent disease and soil-transmitted infections.
Last year, the company started its “Ticket to Give” program where it allows people outside of the company to go distribute the shoes to the needy.
Barker has been a TOMS supporter since she was in high school. She did her senior project on the company and its service.
“I’ve always had an interest in fashion, business and service, and TOMS business model brings all those passions together,” Barker said. “It struck something in me.”
This week, Barker headed up the Campus Club’s One Day Without Shoes festivities. HPU faculty, staff and students spent a day barefoot in honor of children who go barefoot around the world every day. The event included feet painting, activities focused on awareness and a barefoot walk around campus.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Barket said. “It’s so surreal to be allowed to be a part of this. I hope to develop good friendships and connections.”
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