anyone who knows me even marginally knows that i’m a sucker for a pair of cute shoes.  seriously — sometimes i think i’m the easiest person in the world to please. cute shoes and frozen yogurt? done and done.

but for the first time, i am actually obsessed with a pair of shoes based on much more than how cute they make my feet look. even though i do love that, too…

what if every time you bought something, someone you didn’t know — someone living in poverty in another part of the world — received something they desperately needed, simply because of your purchase?

One-for-One. buy one = giving one.

this is, quite probably, the best business plan i’ve heard of to date. or at least, the most humanistic & heart-wrenching. if i was ever able to start a business, i could only hope i’d have the compassionate motivation to do so for such a worthy cause as that which prompted the founding of TOMS shoes…and all because one man (who was a contender on the second season of The Amazing Race, little fun fact for you) saw a need and put his all into doing his part to fill it.

the idea is beautifully simple: for every pair of TOMS purchased by you and me, a pair gets donated to a child in need. millions of children live in poverty (not only in 3rd world countries, although the bulk get distributed there — they’ve also donated to children right here in the states), and TOMS puts shoes on their feet and opens up possibilities for them. so many of these kids weren’t even able to attend school before receiving their shoes, which is unthinkable for those of us who have 50 pairs of shoes laying around in our closets.

i’ve always had a crazy shoe fetish, but something like this puts it all into perspective. i’m not just buying into a cute pair of comfy walking shoes — i’m buying into a movement. or, someone is buying into it for me, as i received an adorable pair for my 30th birthday from a close friend who knew about my fascination with this company (and my desire to quit my life at any second and move to Santa Monica to work in their offices and hopefully go on the outreach trips to distribute shoes to kids in need).

these are my little cuties, the Classics in Earthwise Slate:

i know the look might not be for everyone (i happen to love it, but then again, i was meant to be a beach bum/ surfer chick in California, i swear), but that’s hardly the point. oh, and if you’re wondering — they are extremely comfortable. definitely excited about wearing down the city streets in these babies.

the organization really is amazing. since its inception in 2006, over 1,000,000 pairs of shoes have been donated to children in need, in over 20 countries. they also promote an event called “One Day Without Shoes” in April, where they encourage people to go an entire day without wearing shoes in order to raise awareness over this issue and spark conversations about how we can all get involved in helping children. (no, i didn’t come to my office shoeless, but i would have if i thought i’d have gotten away with it.)

the inspiration for the style of shoe came from the traditional Argentinian Alpargata (a flat, cloth & hemp shoe or sandal), worn by native farmers for hundreds of years:

i love that we here in the US are being introduced to an unfamiliar style of shoe that’s so common to many of the kids receiving their pairs. i can’t say i’ve ever had any other shoe that looks quite like TOMS, and i’ll be reminded everytime i put them on that a little kid somewhere else in the world has benefitted from my shoes. i wish i could be there when the kids receive their shoes, eyes shining, their lives changed for the better with a simple purchase by an unknown face across the world.

i’ve bought, received, and worn hundreds of pairs of shoes throughout my lifetime, but i can honestly say that no other single pair has (or will) ever affected me as much as these canvas slip-ons i currently have on my feet. i’m not being silly or sentimental or trying to latch onto a “hip” movement. i’m the girl who always went crazy over shoes and bought far more than she needed.

for the first time in a long time, i can honestly say, i needed this pair.