Engagement Announcement

Dick and Sally Wallace of O™Neill are pleased to ann...

Just Get Something Done Without Shoes

May 6, 2011 Updated Jan 23, 2022

CONNIE GILDERSLEEVE with the shoes collected at the O'Neill Depot.

Last Friday, the Orphan Grain Train semi from Norfolk pulled into the O'Neill Depot to collect the shoes donated during the Just Get Something Done Without Shoes & O'Neill Depot Shoe Drop event held earlier in April. The event was part of the national One Day Without Shoes awareness campaign sponsored by TOMS Shoes, inviting people to spend part of their day living barefoot to be part of a greater movement toward change.

In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, 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. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers. As of last September, TOMS has given away one million pairs of shoes!

TOMS encourages other businesses to follow their One for One model to share what you can with others in need. In fact, next month TOMS will no longer be just a shoe company, but a One for One company as they plan to reveal the company's next product to help make a difference in the world.

While enthusiastic college students were largely responsible for getting the first "One Day Without Shoes" event off the ground in 2008, the event has grown beyond college campuses. People of all ages are now involved in the event. According to TOMS Shoes website, in 2010 over a quarter of a million people went barefoot and over 1,600 barefoot events took place globally. On April 5 events were held in 25 countries and O'Neill hosted one of the few (or only) registered events in Nebraska.

The O'Neill event organizer, Connie Gildersleeve , went 11 hours without shoes that day and claims to have a new appreciation for those that do not have the choice to go with or without shoes. Many children in developing countries must walk barefoot for miles to school, clean water and medical help. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk. This is why a simple pair of shoes can make a difference:

1) A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.

2) Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.

3) Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.

In addition to just "going barefoot" the local event at the O'Neill Depot included a shoe drive, vendors for shopping and free bottled water to those out enjoying the Cowboy Trail adjacent to the depot.

The shoe drive was for collecting new or gently worn shoes to be donated to those in need. At the close of the three day event, 1,005 pairs of shoes had been donated with many more donated between then and the arrival of the Orphan Grain Train semi on Friday! A representative for O'Neill's Bright Horizons organization collected a nice assortment of shoes to be shared locally. The remaining 70 boxes of shoes are being transported via the Orphan Grain Train to Haiti, where many people that walk shoeless through the remaining rubble of last years earthquake will benefit from the generous donations.

While visiting the depot, shoe donators and Cowboy Trail users were happy to see the wide variety of goods offered by the local sponsors.

The local sponsors that got the word out and made this charity event possible were: Bomgaars , Nebraska Health Department, Nebraska Game & Parks, Pampered Chef - independent consultant, Rebecca Gdowski Scentsy - Tiffany Roeder, independent consultant, Norwex - Becky Dean, independent consultant, Havvn - Kay Stepp, Independent Consultant. Bags of Hope & LileeBees - Kerstin Hagberg & Leslie Eckert , O'Neill Family Eyecare, P.C. - Dr. Phil Gildersleeve & Dr. Jonna Kohle, - Motivational Website , And Barefoot Books & Gifts - Connie Gildersleeve.

Event organizer, Connie Gildersleeve, would like to thank the event sponsors, OHS Students, the many, many shoe donators and every individual that helped make this event a big success. If you, your classroom or organization would like to be involved in next years One Day Without Shoes Event, you can contact Connie through the website or email"

Other ways you can help to help make a difference:

Donate items or help package meals with the Orphan Grain Train organization.

Show the TOMS documentary for your club or organization.

Host a Style Your Sole party, where the guests donate the money for the host to pre-order

TOMS white canvas shoes to be creatively decorated by the guests at the party, knowing that each pair ordered will be matched with a pair given to a child in need.

Also, since the O'Neill event, we have learned about another giving organization called Soles 4 Souls, which is currently accepting shoes for the tornado victims in the South Eastern states. You can learn more about this organization at the following website:

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