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PARTNER NEWS: TOMS Announces It Has Given 10 Million Pairs of New Shoes To Children in Need, Has Helped Restore Sight for 150,000 People Around the World

(PR Newswire) Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, has announced that through its Giving Partners the company has hand-placed over 10 million pairs of new shoes on children in need and has helped give sight to over 150,000 people around the world.  The success of TOMS’ One for One® business model has led to a continued evolution of its Giving efforts, with the company having made major investments in its shoe manufacturing, economic empowerment and commissioned field research, and has developed product partnerships that have raised millions of dollars for non-profit organizations.

“When I started TOMS, I knew nothing about shoes.  I knew nothing about giving.  But I knew I needed to help,” reflected Mycoskie.  “Over the past seven years, TOMS has grown faster than I ever imagined – and while we learned to give by giving, we weren’t doing it as well as we could have.  But we’ve listened to our Giving Partners, our customers, our employees, and our critics – and are now doing more than ever to give in a responsible, sustainable way.  We’ve entered a new era of giving, and in a way for us it’s like it’s One for One 2.0.”

TOMS expects its Giving Partners to hand-place another 10 million pairs on children in need in the next 24 months.  As part of this accomplishment, some of the most notable developments in the company’s Giving efforts are:

  • TOMS has made major investments in its Giving model and operations.

The company brought on a Chief Giving Officer, Sebastian Fries, and has built a team of more than 20 individuals dedicated to every aspect of its giving operations, including strategic planning, logistical support, program development and impact measurement. The TOMS Giving team is comprised of individuals with significant experience in public health and at non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

As part of this evolution, humanitarian organizations are a now a cornerstone of the overall Giving strategy.  TOMS works with more than 75 Giving Partners to integrate new shoes into their larger development goals.  The company has also made improvements to the canvas shoes it gives and has also developed new giving pairs tailored for local needs, including winter boots and sport shoes.

  • TOMS is producing new Giving shoes in the regions in which it gives. The company currently makes its Giving pairs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Argentina and China. Within two years, its will produce one-third of its Giving shoes in the regions where it gives. By producing more shoes locally, TOMS will create and support jobs in places where they are needed. The company is testing production in India and is also looking to expand manufacturing in Africa and other regions.

In Haiti, TOMS is in the early stages of local shoe production.  It has also partnered with local artists to create a line of hand-painted shoes, creating and supporting jobs in communities in which it gives.  The company will soon be offering more styles of shoes that feature locally produced textiles.

  • TOMS has commissioned and/or funded several research initiatives to better understand the impact of its shoe-giving program.

The core objective is for the company to learn from its impact assessments and improve its giving programs on the ground.  Key positive impacts TOMS is investigating in El Salvador, Zanzibar, Malawi and Ethiopia are shoes’ direct affect on a child’s health; ability to access education; and overall well-being.  In addition to understanding shoes’ direct impact, TOMS is investigating how integrating shoe giving into its Giving Partners’ ongoing programs can enhance their programs’ efficacy.  TOMS is also investigating how its shoe-giving’s programs may affect the local economy to ensure responsible giving.

In Ethiopia, TOMS’ work in the field has also inspired the company to make significant contributions to helping end podoconiosis, a painful and stigmatizing form of elephantiasis that afflicts millions of people who live and work barefoot in silica-rich volcanic soil.  TOMS gives new shoes to children to prevent the next generation from getting the disease, and has invested in research, mapping, expansion of treatment programs and clinics, community education, patient rehabilitation and advocacy.

  • Through its product partnerships, TOMS has provided financial support to other organizations that also give to people in need.

Above and beyond the new shoes that TOMS gives and the eyesight it helps save and restore, its product partnerships enable the company to give even more. Some of the non-profits that have been funded through these collaborations include Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), Save the Waves, charity:water and Movember, among others.

The company’s Chief Giving Officer Fries adds, “We’re seeing remarkable results with our Giving Partners’ shoe giving and sight giving programs, but there’s still much to do.  New shoes are helping improve school attendance and enrollment.
 They’re combined with screenings to combat malnutrition. They’re given in conjunction with
 medication to fight hookworm.  And our sight giving empowers communities and supports sustainable eye-care organizations in the developing world. We work with locally based organizations that train residents to provide professional care. So we’re making an investment in clinics, people and even local jobs.”

About TOMS:

In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in a village in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One.®

Five years later, TOMS realized this movement could serve other basic needs and launched TOMS Eyewear. With every pair purchased, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need. One for One.® As more everyday choices have the power to impact the lives of those around the world, the TOMS movement will continue to grow and evolve.


Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, is a TOMS giving partner. See related article.

PHOTO from a TOMS giving trip to a Salesian school in Guatemala earlier this year.

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