Special-edition, Congolese-inspired TOMS Shoes
We're teaming up with Giving Partner Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), an advocacy and grant-making organization founded by Ben Affleck, on two Congolese-inspired designs with an additional give. Read More >>
TOMS x charity: water - An Eyewer collaboration
TOMS and charity: water, an organization founded in 2006 (like TOMS!) that’s dedicated to to helping bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, join forces for the first-ever TOMS Eyewear collab! Read More >>
Giving TOMS Shoes in the DRC
Founded by Ben Affleck in 2010, ECI is an advocacy and grant-making organization that works with and for the people of DRC, the third most populous country in Africa, and one that struggled under a cycle of violence for nearly 20 years – particularly in the east. Read More >>
Hi, folks. I’m Chelsea (second row on the right), on the TOMS Social Media team, and I compiled this journal, which tells a collaborative but personal account of our Giving Trip with Save the Children in El Salvador. One of my very favorite parts of my job is helping the Giving team relay stories every week of what gives deep meaning to the One for One commitment we’re helping deliver.
Now, having gone on my first TOMS Giving Trip, I’m honored to understand what that feels and looks like, and I’m more than motivated to share that with you. The following is a product our Giving Trip group’s experience with TOMS Giving Partner Save the Children in El Salvador:
Eleven strangers we were, with a journey ahead…and no, this is not reality television.
In preparing for our Giving Trip with Save the Children, Larry, Chad, Jasmine, Justin, Kat, Sydney, Sheena, Amanda, Josie, Brennan and I listened as others at HQ told us that no expectations were the perfect expectations to bring with us to El Salvador. While there, we would experience something that we now understand no blog, photo or story can truly do justice. And yet, we will continue to try…
We spent six days in that beautiful country — Angie on the Save the Children El Salvador team called it a “small country full of children with big dreams.” Together we learned that the richness of an experience happens when expectations melt in the heat of a Central American summer day and reality just kind of happens.
When we returned to HQ to recount our amazing week, we resolved to tell our shared story of how the things we could not help but envision before we left actually transpired on our Giving Trip. Here’s what happened when pen was put to ink…
Expectation: The focus of this Giving Trip will be on distribution.
Reality: The focus of this Giving Trip is on empowerment.
In being introduced to the communities where TOMS Shoes are integrated into Save the Children’s programming, the focus shifted almost immediately. Our group anticipated shoe distributions — and of course we did plenty of those! — but as it happened, we were part of something that is helping the people within these communities to help themselves. We spent some of the most meaningful moments coloring educational pamphlets about health and protection offered by shoes; in painting a mural that read “You are special” alongside students; and in learning how Save the Children’s programs are equipping teachers with the basic resources they need to educate children on a world of opportunity. The lesson plans, alphabet, vocab words and hand-written hopes and dreams that hung on the walls of the small classrooms showed us that in TOMS’ name (“Shoes for Tomorrow”), the “tomorrow” is just as important as the shoes. With the support of One for One, Giving Partners are reaching schools and, further, reaching children with the knowledge that education is important. And we felt empowered to be a part of that by contributing to this movement.
Expectation: This Giving Trip is about the kids’ experience with One for One.
Reality: This Giving Trip is about the human experience with One for One.
One of the most — if not the very most — perspective-shifting pieces of this experience was the realization that One for One has more sides than we’d have room to list in a mission statement or on a shoebox.
As part of a TOMS Giving Trip, we visit a country wherein TOMS gives shoes as volunteers for a Giving Partner. Not as tourists, not as TOMS employees, but as people who care about making a difference. We placed shoes on the feet of some incredible children with big ambitions and bigger hearts. We met their parents, principals, community leaders and friends; we heard their stories, and shared our own, and somewhere between the time we unloaded our first containers filled with shoes and the time we returned home, those stories intertwined. That’s when, for us, One for One felt like a movement for the people, and not just for the kids who receive new TOMS Shoes.
And so…though we ignored the sound advice before we headed for El Salvador, we learned for ourselves that life is — when surrounded by good people doing good things — better than we could have even envisioned it.