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 >>
Kurt’s a local guy whose friends with Drew on our TOMS Action Sports Retail team. Neither is quite sure how they met, but their ideals and interests align pretty well, often linking back to the local surf culture that they both credit with motivating them to be different.
Kurt tells us that there are tons of guys like him and Drew, SoCal residents passionate about the lifestyle that helped shape their lives, who want to contribute to offering opportunities to young kids with similar interests. He’s using Hand Me Ups, the non-profit organization he founded while still in college, as his vehicle to break into that niche and do some good.
“I’ve worked in fashion my entire life,” Kurt says. “And I’ve noticed huge excess stocks at each stop along the way. I figured I could help find an alternative to storing all those extra things in a warehouse for years or selling it on sale.”
With Hand Me Ups, run by a whopping team of…just Kurt, he takes the excess clothes & goods and distributes them to children in poverty, starting here in California. Currently, Hand Me Ups brings “new, clean, and desirable branded clothing” to kids who are generally used to getting used, hand-me-down goods. He works with brands like Volcom, Quality Peoples, Warriors of Radness, and American Apparel to collect and make use of the inventory that Hand Me Ups provides the kids.
At the community centers through which he identifies the kids who can benefit from the clothes, Kurt’s extended his goals and his reach. He’s leveraging the power of collaboration within a supportive and impassioned community to feed self-esteem and confidence for these young people to pursue unique passions.
“We grew up watching the waves, eating mac & cheese on the curb; now there’s an organization that surfers and skaters can link up with to promote that lifestyle that can still keep kids involved with a hobby and out of trouble.”
When he holds Hand Me Ups distributions at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Kurt turns the giving events into parties. He invites his friends – Tony Alva, Ford Archbold, Andrew Doheny - who happen to be influencers in the action sports world to speak to the kids about why they’re awesome, why their unique points of view are valuable, and why this world needs them to think outside the box, shaping a new set of real role models in a way that he says is being awesomely received.
“Little groms down at the water need some guidance,” he tells us. “And the focus has always been on these kids, so the role model part of this is not farfetched, just an additional way we can help.”
Read about some incredible projects spearheaded by innovators, young and old, local to Southern California or across the globe, here on the TOMS Blog in the “Start Something that Matters” category. Pick up some tips on how to start a meaningful project of your own, in (Chief Shoe Giver) Blake (Mycoskie)’s first book.