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 >>
Last week we shared how our Giving process has evolved with the business, making the shift from Shoe Drops — wherein TOMS family and friends would help distribute shoes to children in need — to Giving Trips, those unique experiences where TOMS employees and contests winners have the opportunity to visit the humanitarian organizations we call Giving Partners, to learn and help distribute shoes in the communities they serve.
Larry and Aaron are two TOMS employees who’ve been around to watch the evolution unfold. In TOMS’ early days, these guys traveled with TOMS to Argentina on one of the last Shoe Drops. Last year they each embarked on Giving Trips with Giving Partner Save the Children in El Salvador.
Read on as Larry and Aaron share the story of how TOMS past meets present through these powerful on-the-ground opportunities.
Larry: When I first went on a Shoe Drop, TOMS’ Giving was still evolving. We arrived in Argentina, drove up to a local center to pick up shoes and then we delivered those shoes ourselves.
Aaron: For us to be on a Shoe Drop felt so great. But as time went on, we saw everything grow and learned more about the bigger picture. We could tell TOMS Giving was something that was changing…
This past summer we went on a Giving Trip. From the minute we arrived at the airport in San Salvador, it was a whole new experience for me, and it was almost like it was my first time experiencing our Giving at all. The most important new aspect for me was how much learning we actually did on this trip.
Although the spirit of giving was the same way back when, it was a different feeling this time. Now I had knowledge of who these kids were through what our Giving Partner had taught us about their schools; the communities they lived in; their country and their culture; and Save the Children itself – including their broader work and how they see shoes fitting into their goals. When I was putting the shoes on children’s feet, I had a real, big-picture understanding of what was happening and why: the purpose and the people.
Larry: Absorbing and understanding information helps us know how we fit in to the foundation of this company. Giving Trips provide a much more complete experience, both for the kids and for me, as a TOMS employee and as a person.
Aaron: In the early days I felt like we were a small group of people doing something special, having a small but important influence. This company that I was a part of was looking to build for the future and to grow. What we were doing then was smaller, but it was a foundation. I had always envisioned us making a bigger mark, making bigger change in the future. I feel like the difference now is that we’re a bigger group of people with more knowledge and education on why and how. We have strong partnerships with incredible organizations that give shoes as part of much larger solutions. And our approach to Giving Trips – where we are visitors, helpers, and learners, supporting the work of these organizations – reflects that.
Larry: I definitely don’t want to forget that beginning phase, though, when Shoe Drops were all we knew, because that phase is an important part of what got us here. It was part of our evolution.
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