UA students, local artists paint TOMS at St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center

Gabriela Diaz | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Gabriela Diaz / Arizona Daily Wildcat

TOMS hosts an event to add custom designs to their shoes and promote their brand. The event was held at St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center and included live performances, food and freebies.

UA students and local artists gathered together to help with a global cause by painting shoes Sunday.

The event, titled “Style Your Sole,” encouraged students to purchase a pair of TOMS shoes to be painted by an artist and provided an opportunity for students to design and paint their own TOMS shoes, all while helping children around the world. For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need through their “One for One” movement.

Tucked away beneath a Sunday church service, students and local artists gathered downstairs at the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center. The artists volunteered to help tackle a stack of boxes waiting to be painted with pre-ordered designs ranging from UA symbols to intricate patterns of trees.

“I’m a big supporter of TOMS, I have probably like three pairs at home,” said Seandean Anderson, a visual communications senior, volunteer artist and Daily Wildcat employee in the production department. “I thought it’d be interesting to be able to do something like this on TOMS and bring awareness to it.”

The event began when the Newman Center decided it wanted to host an event, rather than just an outreach, according to Sister Angelica Velez, a coordinator for the Social Justice Ministry at the Newman Center. It reached out to TOMS, who then put them in contact with Jenna Bigham, a communications junior and the TOMS Campus Club leader at the UA.

“ …If we can sell shoes … imagine the more we sell, the more shoes that can go to children,” Velez said. “That was our real purpose, was to get shoes so that children would have shoes.”

After some collaboration, the TOMS Campus Club and the Social Justice Ministry were able to plan the event. Though originally set to take place in the UA Bear Down Gym, the event was relocated to the Newman Center after shoe sales didn’t go as well as hoped.

Velez said she remains hopeful, however, that this event will be
the start of something bigger.

“We decided ‘Well, what if we start at least the beginning,’ and
then maybe that might be incentive for Jenna’s club [TOMS Campus Club] as well as the rest of the university,” Velez said. “It’s a way in which Newman at the UA wants to encourage people of all faith, obviously our students here at Newman, but to learn what it is to do the call of our faith and to remember that we have a responsibility to help others.”

The UA TOMS Campus Club has about 40 active club members who help spread the message of TOMS and “One for One,” as well as help out at events, according to Bigham.

“I think it’s a great company … it’s really good to advocate for something you believe in,” Bigham added.

TOMS is actually a for profit business, because it needs to profit in order to deliver shoes to children in other countries, according to Sofia Battaglia-Bakir, an English and Italian sophomore and TOMS event coordinator.

“Essentially these kinds of events are to promote that, and get people aware of TOMS and their mission,” Battaglia-Bakir said.

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