“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.”
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.