The United States of Giving
This season, we took a road trip across the U.S. to share some of the giving we’re doing here at home. Throughout our journey, we met several exceptional individuals – each connected to TOMS in a unique way and each a reminder of the positive change that can be set in motion with a simple action. Here is their story.
Watch the Video: United We Give
The Toms Ecosystem
- Shelly Colvin
- Nashville, TN
Giving is a collaborative effort that starts with our customers, individuals like Shelly. A Nashville-based singer-songwriter, she’s always looking at how we’re connected and how our actions can affect others. “Knowing there are so many kids, so many people who are in need in our own backyards, to be able to help our neighbor in a small way or a big way is wonderful. It’s beautiful.”
- Sebastian Fries
- Toms Employee
- Los Angeles, CA
As the Chief Giving Officer at TOMS, Sebastian leads a department of more than 20 individuals dedicated to every aspect of giving, including strategic planning, logistical support, program development and impact measurement – all of which help local partners give shoes and much more. “Our mission is to support our Giving Partners in leveraging the power of communities, in order to give children a better opportunity for a better future.”
- Tamsyn Oakes
- Giving Partner
- Eastern Kentucky
In her work as a program specialist with Save the Children, Tamsyn sees the needs on the ground in eastern Kentucky. “I feel my responsibility is to help these kids in whatever capacity it might be, whether it’s an afterschool program, a literacy program, a health and nutrition program.” She also knows how collaboration can make a difference. “Partnerships speak to sustainability. You can always do more together.”
- Sixth Grader
- Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky is home to some of the poorest counties in the United States, and it’s a place where Save the Children is helping kids like Joey. Together with other students in his afterschool program, Joey received a new pair of TOMS Sport Shoes. Focused and determined, he’s already putting his new shoes to good use: shooting hoops on the playground. “When I grow up I want to be a basketball player. It'll take hard work, but I will work hard every day.”
The Giving Journey
Thoughtful giving is a partnership.
Here are a few of our partners.
Helen Keller International
Since 1994, Helen Keller International’s ChildSight® program has provided free eye exams for more than 1.5 million U.S. students and free eyeglasses for more than 200,000 children.
National Relief Charities
National Relief Charities works with more than 1,000 community partners to help improve the lives of Native Americans on reservations in the Plains and Southwest.
Save the Children
Committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and helping all children succeed in school and life, Save the Children’s U.S. programs reached 240,000 kids last year.
Here's where we've traveled
- National Releif Charities Shoes in South Dakota
- HKI's Childsight® Sight in New York
- Save the Children Shoes in Kentucky
Crisscrossing the U.S. on our trek, we experienced firsthand the phenomenal work being done by our Giving Partners. From providing prescription glasses in the South Bronx to a shoe distribution in South Dakota to equipping kids in Kentucky with the resources to live healthier, these partners are helping improve lives, one child at a time.
Partner Profile: Helen Keller International's Childsight
Improving Learning by Improving a School’s Vision
On a city block in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx, there’s a small school with a big mission. St. Ignatius School prepares sixth, seventh and eighth graders for high school and, ultimately, college. With a rigorous program that includes an extended school day and hours of homework afterwards, seeing clearly is crucial to learning.
Our Sight Giving Partner Helen Keller International (HKI) and its ChildSight® program provided all of the students with eye exams. It turned out nearly 40% of them needed prescription lenses, so TOMS partnered with HKI to provide new
eyeglasses, free of charge. The kids even picked out their own frames. (This year, oversized, square-shaped frames were very popular.)
When the kids put on their new glasses, their vision isn’t the only thing that improves. “They're participating in the classes more,” explains Tonya Daniels, HKI’s ChildSight® New York Program Manager. “Their behavior is changing. They can do what their peers are doing.”
With the support of TOMS and our eyewear customers, ChildSight® continues to create that kind of change at schools in underserved communities across the United States.
Partner Profile: Save the Children
TAKING AN ACTIVE APPROACH TO GETTING HEALTHY
For many families living near or below the poverty line in the U.S., putting nutritious food on the table can be a huge struggle. Less healthy alternatives might be cheaper but can contribute to childhood obesity and other health issues, especially when kids are less active.
In response, Save the Children has launched its Healthy Choices program to get kids moving and eating better. On a daily basis, Save the Children engages kids in fun physical activities and provides healthy snacks, in addition to teaching kids about good nutrition.
TOMS has worked with Save the Children internationally since 2011. This year, Save the Children began integrating
shoe giving into its initiatives in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. And now we’re expanding our collaboration – giving kids in Save the Children’s Healthy Choices and literacy programs our new sports shoes. These shoes are designed for lots of activity, playing games and being a kid.
“We’re talking to kids, and we’re saying fitness is important,” says Tamsyn Oakes, a Save the Children program specialist in Kentucky. “Now they have the shoes and an opportunity to act on that every day.”
Partner Profile: National Relief Charities
EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES, ONE STEP AT A TIME
Since 2011, we’ve been working with National Relief Charities (NRC) to provide new shoes to children in Native American communities on more than 30 reservations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The communities face many significant challenges, and we view shoes as one small piece of the puzzle, helping foster educational opportunities for kids. NRC often combines TOMS Shoes with school supplies at back-to-school events, to encourage enrollment and attendance.
Sometimes just finding new shoes is tough for families, and shoe distributions help provide a more regular supply. Local convenience stores often carry inexpensive flip-flops, if they
carry shoes at all. Transportation to shops outside the community – sometimes as much as a three-hour trip — is limited and expensive.
Weather poses a different kind of challenge for many of the communities, with harsh winters and hot summers. So we’ve started giving different kinds of shoes. At the start of winter, we distribute our new Winter Boots. At the beginning of the school year, we provide new canvas shoes.
“It's a big thing to have a brand-new pair of shoes that fit properly and that feel good,” explains Andrew Bentley of NRC, who helps deliver the shoes to the kids. “As soon as that shoe goes on, they're off, playing somewhere or running around the gym.”