Atop the cold concrete of the Lory Student Center plaza, eight barefoot students departed the Morgan Library Wednesday to embark on a protest march aimed to raise awareness of impoverished communities in third world countries who cannot afford shoes.
Discarding the hopes for sunny weather and a higher turnout, the group had fun along the journey by spreading the group message to other students and converting bystanders to participants.
Four CSU students organized the barefoot march to complement to the “National Day Without Shoes” campaign created by the retailer TOMS Shoes from Santa Monica, CA. The company matches every sale of a pair of shoes with a donation of a pair to a child in a third world country.
Alison Kent, a sophomore international studies and political science double-major, was the first recruit to join the march. Her toes already exposed, Kent had heard of the Day Without Shoes campaign from an e-mail sent by the “CSU TOMS” group on Facebook, a networking Web site.
“I thought it was a good idea,” Kent said. “It stood out from all the other causes that I had received on Facebook.”
Kent came to campus without shoes, but had not heard of the barefoot march until an inadvertent run-in with the marchers outside the library. Recruits also came from other areas along the route.
Kevin Frasure, a sociology senior, joined the group from the strip booths on the plaza. His feet were bare for a different reason: he had taken off his shoes to mount the banner for an earlier demonstration on the plaza, which honored the Virginia Tech victims.
The group would pass through the plaza to enter the Lory Student Center. The marchers said some students could have been deterred from joining due to the weather conditions: a gray sky and gusts of brisk wind.
But the weather didn’t keep Lexy Hall, a freshman English major, from biking to school barefoot. She said it was a difficult task.
“My bike was trying to tell me, ‘Don’t ride your bike without shoes, you moron,'” Hall said.
Hall would initiate an unplanned appearance on the stage in the lower level of the LSC. The group stepped onto the stage, and both Hall and Kent vocalized the cause for the TOMS initiative before a lunch-crowd audience. The barefoot members utilized the opportunity by handing out flyers for the next TOMS advocacy event, scheduled for May 2.
Exiting the student center to re-enter the plaza, the group fizzled out and parted separate ways. Emily Grisley, a TOMS intern who had planned the barefoot march, said she was not disappointed in the turnout, despite knowing that 250 Facebook users were confirmed to “go all day without soes,” according to the group Web site.
“Even though 250 people didn’t come without their shoes today, 250 people are still aware of what today is,” Grisley said. “We picked up some interesting characters along the way.”
Staff writer Shayna Grajo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.