In some parts of the world, shoes are considered luxuries. So it wasn't just spring in Virginia that brought students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business to Flagler Courtyard on Tuesday, 16 April. Football, Frisbees and music were in abundance, but at the business school known for its social responsibility, students took an afternoon to educate - in their bare feet.
The afternoon's activities were held as part of TOMS' One Day Without Shoes, an initiative to draw attention to issues associated with child poverty and the positive effects shoes can have on a child's life, from health to education. The event, held on campuses and organizations across the globe, is based on the premise that bare feet spark conversation, and conversation inspires action.
"The TOMS mission, as you may know, is that for every pair of shoes bought, they donate a pair of shoes to a developing country," explained Darden Second Year student Sarah Washabaugh, who played a key role in organizing the event with help from other Darden students who will work full time for Deloitte, plan to intern at Deloitte or are sponsored Deloitte scholars. "Deloitte has been a partner of TOMS for a few years, helping with their sustainability and supply chain practices," she said.
TOMS and its corporate partners make it about more than the shoes; the footwear children receive is frequently accompanied by health care, school uniforms and community development programs.
"It's definitely got people talking," Washabaugh said. "People now know more about the TOMS mission and what they do and their role in trying to improve the health and education of children around the world."
Between fielding rogue cricket balls, barefoot First Year student Saurabh Dagia agreed, "This has been generating a lot of conversations. It's been getting people outside, it's a gorgeous day. People want to come out; you give them a chance to come out, it just makes it easier to raise awareness about such things."
Awareness is not all Darden students are raising. "Deloitte will put up some money for the section that has the most participation today," Washabaugh noted. "It's donating $200 to a charity of the section's choice."
As for which section would win the $200 for a charity of their choice, Dagia asserted: "C. Always C."
Section C, indeed winners of the participation challenge, will be donating the $200 to The One Fund Boston.
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About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case study method, the highest-ranked faculty whose research advances global managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders who are ready to make an impact.
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