A few weeks ago, we were invited to check out a creative holiday pop-up shop that wasn’t all about sales, shopping or spending money. The TOMS Give Shop was instead about giving back to all of the people that have supported the charitable company since its inception. And with the recent, tragic news from Connecticut, we thought we’d share a positive story about helping children, especially at this time of year.
The Give Shop was held just a hop, skip and a jump away from our office, so we headed over after work one day to check it out. Inside, we found an adorable set-up of activities and information about the work that TOMS does, all themed in a spirit of the holidays.
There, you could have a photo taken with some amazing props (reindeer antlers, Santa aprons, ugly Christmas sweaters and more), which you’d then bring over to another station to make your very own snow globe.
There was a spot where you could fill out a pledge – something that you planned to do more of or be better at in the new year, in exchange for a small gift from TOMS.
There were tasty drinks, cupcakes and spots to sit and read all about good stuff that’s happened with TOMS since the company began in 2006.
You very likely know what the TOMS mandate is (in fact, we’ve mentioned it on here before), but here’s the background: founder Blake Mycoskie was travelling in Argentina when he noticed that many of the children he saw were barefoot. TOMS was born, with the basic premise that with every pair of shoes purchased, another would be given to a child who needed them. Within his first year, Myscoskie returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes to distribute – a pretty healthy start.
Since then, TOMS has donated millions of pairs of shoes to children in more than 40 countries around the world.
They work with humanitarian organizations that have a long-term presence in the country they’re giving to, and don’t give once and leave. Since children grow out of shoes, they work to establish relationships that allow them to continue providing shoes to a community. They work with local businesses to make sure they’re not negatively impacted, and children who receive TOMS get them as part of a bigger health and educational program.
Most importantly, they’re pretty rigourous about ensuring that no children are involved in manufacturing their shoes, and hire third-party sources to verify that there is no child labour and everyone receives fair wages.
Fun fact: there is no Tom that inspired the name. It’s a shortened form of “Shoes for a Better Tomorrow”.
For more about how TOMS gives, check out their Giving Report. They also host the annual “One Day Without Shoes” event to raise awareness about their work, details of which are here. They’ve also recently launched the One for One Movement with eyewear, providing glasses for people in need.
All images courtesy of Rooftop Agency.