adult and child bare feet on wet rock

There’s a particular type of giving and service I like to point out whenever I find it—I refer to it as “no skin off my ass” giving. These are the actions that don’t interfere with your everyday routines, yet can, with minimal effort, make a difference in the lives of others.

There are, of course, outstanding opportunities around the world to really dedicate your all—energy, time, sweat, and tears—and I hope you’ll find plenty of those options here and elsewhere. But how about something you can do on any old Tuesday afternoon…or Thursday morning…or any time at all. Actions so simple yet still impactful…the only question that remains, is “Why not…?”

Here’s one: Why not take a picture to give a pair of shoes to a child in need?

From May 5 – May 21, if you simply Instagram a photo of your bare feet with the hashtag #WITHOUTSHOES, TOMS Shoes will give a new pair of new shoes to up to one million kids who need them. The company always has a one for one practice, where with every purchase you make a new pair is also given to a child somewhere in the world (TOMS does amazing “Shoe Drop” trips to communities across the globe, having donated over ten million pairs of shoes and they have also given one million pairs of shoes to children in need in the United States).

There are some cool things about shoes that make tangible differences in life—differences we don’t often consider since most of us don’t lack for some sort of footwear.

            *Shoes can increase access to education—attendance goes up by 62%.

            *Shoes can help treat disease—podoconiosis, a debilitating disease of the feet and legs, is transmitted through bare feet and affects more than four million people.

            *Shoes can protect feet from illness—other water and soil-borne illnesses are transmitted though uncovered feet.

            *Shoes can improve learning ability—TOMS has created an incentive and recognition program for kids who are screened and treted for amblyopia (“lazy eye”)

            *Shoes can provide comfort—nearly 47 million of us around the world are refugees, half of those are children without access to home and basic amenities. Warm shoes change that experience.

            *Shoes can encourage healthy lifestyles—with a doubling of childhood obesity in the past few decades, sports shoes increase activity and exercise.

SO kick off those kicks, point your camera down, snap, post, tag, and you’ve just given a child something that truly matters. Why not…?

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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