This past Tuesday, April 29, you may have seen some Manhattan College students walking around barefoot all day, even though it was raining and fifty degrees outside. No, they did not forget to put their shoes on.
Many people know April 29 as “One Day Without Shoes,” an initiative started by the TOMS shoe company.
According to the TOMS website April 29 “is the annual day when we take off our shoes to raise global awareness for children’s health and education.”
Kathleen White, a graduating senior and member of the Just Peace club started this day on MC’s campus a few years ago.
Anthony Fischetti, another member of Just Peace, said that the club is involved in LINK (Liberty in North Korea) and they are general supporters of anything that Campus Ministry and Social Action, CRS campus ambassadors and fair trade are involved in.
“The main goal of this day is to raise awareness. You see someone walking around without shoes on and it’s like, ‘Why don’t they have their shoes on?’ Then other people ask you why people aren’t wearing shoes,” Fischetti said.
Another student who participated was Natalie Craig, a freshman at MC. She said that she saw the posters about the day-long event and decided she wanted to participate in it.
Tuesday happened to be cold and rainy which was unfortunate but Craig said, “It’s raining and it’s cold and I’m definitely feeling it in my feet. But this is only one miniscule fraction of what people who don’t have shoes have to deal with. So it’s really eye opening.”
Derek Smith, a sophomore history and religious studies major, also participated in the day and said that it was a great way to raise awareness as well as “a good excuse to not wear shoes.”
Fischetti said that the event was originally going to have an activity that would simulate different terrain people walk on. In order to get a t-shirt you would have had to walk barefoot on materials such as rocks and dirt. Though the rainy weather prevented this activity from happening on Tuesday, Fishcetti hopes that the weather will cooperate next year.
The day consisted of more than just people walking around barefoot. Many of the participants said that it was a great way to physically and visually show people how other people live in different places and conditions.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much of an effect having shoes has,”
freshman sociology major Olivia Smith said. “Children all over the world, if they cant afford shoes they can’t go to school because schools require shoes and they get diseases. It’s definitely a way to raise awareness.”
Fischetti has a lot of hope for a better turnout next year and said the cold weather might have played a role in the small amount of participants.
“I think it’s good to start off participating but I think the next step is to have people get involved and
show initiative to change the world. Building awareness is great but once everyone is aware, then you have to take the next step. So short term I would like to see more people but long term I would rather see more people getting involved,” Fischetti said.