Students use TOMS to give 730 pairs of shoes to children

Senior fashion design major Rita Yoder and junior fashion merchandising major Adrienne Landan held out the TOMS they have worn and will wear everyday for 365 days. Photo by Monica Maschak.

Dominique Lyons

As a camp counselor, Rita Yoder never understood why some children would bring only one pair of shoes to camp, where they knew their shoes would get dirty and worn. She never considered these shoes might be their only pair.

It wasn’t until Yoder began to wear only one pair of shoes for a whole year that she understood the problem these children face.

“It never really hit me because before this, I had 60 pairs of shoes,” said Yoder, a senior fashion design major.

“That’s pretty bad,” said Adrienne Langan, junior fashion merchandising major, who made the commitment along with Yoder to wear only one pair of shoes for a year.

“Yeah,” Yoder said. “It was pretty bad. And then to minimalize myself to one and to really understand how careful I have to be — like how when some kids are like, ‘Why do we have to go here? It’s so muddy.’ It’s not them complaining. It’s not them being evasive or anything. It’s because they have one pair of shoes, and that’s all they have.”

Along with their partner Casey Sandala, senior visual communication design major, Yoder and Langan have set out to put 730 pairs of TOMS shoes on the feet of needy children. Thanks to TOMS’ one-for-one business policy, which donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that’s bought, the girls’ plan to purchase 365 pairs for children in Ohio will equate to another 365 pairs for children in need all over the world.


To donate: Contact Rita Yoder at (937) 725-5321, [email protected]; Adrienne Langan at (330) 321-3040, [email protected]; or Casey Sandala at (724) 787-8131, [email protected].

“We decided that starting July 4 of 2011, we were going to wear one pair of shoes,” Yoder said. “And for every day that we wear our shoes, we wanted to donate a pair of TOMS to a place in Akron called Urban Vision and a place in Wilmington called Your Father’s Kitchen.”

The girls have submitted their project, titled “365 Days,” to the Pepsi Refresh Project, which, according to, is an “online grant program which makes available millions of dollars to be granted to projects which are intended to improve communities through an online, democratic voting process.”

In order to raise money to buy the shoes, the girls are gathering more than just donations. On the weekends, they collect discarded cans from local fraternity houses to fundraise money.

“We made $40 last Sunday — that’s two children that are now going to have shoes because of someone’s party,” Yoder said.

The three students are thankful to all those who donate to 365 Days and keep a humble outlook on their project.

“It’s not really us,” Langan said. “We’re giving you this outlet. We’re gonna do the work to make sure this gets done, but really it’s these people that are giving the money to us, collecting cans for us, that are giving these kids shoes at the end of the day. I definitely don’t think it’s us.”

According to the TOMS website, shoes are an important part of physical health, protecting feet from potentially infectious cuts and sores. The lack of shoes can also create obstacles for students required to wear certain shoes as part of a school dress code.

The girls are quickly learning how these children must feel.

“If every student on campus gave one dollar,” Yoder said, “We’d be done.”

Contact Dominique Lyons at [email protected].