By Chelsie Gastright, Organizations Editor
April 10, 2013
TOMS is a shoe company well known for its slogan “One for One.” For every pair of shoes bought, the company donates a pair to a child in need. These shoes are then hand delivered by representatives of the company.
Until recently, these “giving trips” were exclusive to those employed by TOMS. Now, the company has opened its doors to allow TOMS fans from around the world to compete for a “Ticket to Give.”
To receive a ticket would allow those selected to travel with TOMS to help the company hand deliver the shoes to third-world countries.
Just days before the contest went live, TOMS hand selected four students who would bypass the voting process and be automatically given a “Ticket to Give.”
Because of her passion, dedication and leadership within the High Point University TOMS chapter, sophomore Ellen Barker has been given one of those four tickets.
“I was just blown away. This is literally one of my dreams,” said Barker, smiling.
Barker received a phone call asking to set up a Skype interview, and when she signed on to Skype, seven members of TOMS headquarters greeted her and delivered the good news.
“I thought it was going to be them checking up to see how the campus chapter was going and to see what we had planned for HPU’s One Day Without Shoes,” recalled Barker. “I called my parents directly after and they told me I was incoherent. They were like, ‘Ellen. Slow down!’” said Barker, laughing. “I can’t even put it into words because every time I talk about it I get really excited.”
Currently, Barker is one of four hand-selected recipients, and 50 more tickets will be given out through a TOMS competition. She still does not know where she will be traveling.
Before Barker can set off on a journey of a lifetime, she has a few things to finish here. As president of HPU TOMS, it is her job to help raise awareness for One Day Without Shoes.
This annual event is happening on April 16 from 3 to 6 p.m. on the Slane outdoor basketball court. All those in attendance will be barefoot, and the organization has plenty of activities planned for those who come.
“There is going to be free cotton candy, and we will also be selling pizza for one dollar,” said Gwena Pitt, HPU TOMS club member. “There will also be a barefoot Zumbathon and chalk for people to trace their feet to say they participated in this day.”
To assist in the cause, students are taking a pledge to go the entire day barefoot to help raise awareness for children who cannot afford shoes. Currently, HPU has 74 students pledging to go barefoot.
“To see all the awareness and all the things I’ve been trying to do on campus and see it put into action… I get to be a part of a global movement,” said Barker. “High Point is a small community, and it’s so great we can celebrate a day without shoes in such a big way.”
Since Barker arrived at HPU, she has been dedicating herself to HPU TOMS and other philanthropic events. To be selected for the Ticket to Give does not just reflect Barker individually, but also HPU TOMS as a whole.
“It shows how lucky we are to have such an involved president,” said Pitt. “The fact that headquarters called [Barker] personally and invited her shows her involvement and passion toward TOMS. To have such an involved leader and to see her success in what she does really inspires you.”
To take the barefoot pledge, visit www.onedaywithoutshoes.com and click “Step Up Together.” Enter High Pont University and your email. For more information on how to get involved in HPU TOMS, email Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org.