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Great fit: TOMS founder, Style Your Sole party

A quick look at the most popular footwear worn these days by ACU students – comfy and trendy TOMS Shoes – reveals a heart for helping others.
So it was no surprise the campus was abuzz last week over the visit of  TOMS Shoes’ founder Blake Mycoskie and the record-setting Style Your Sole Party (the largest ever held at a university) held the next afternoon on the lawn east of the Hunter Welcome Center.
Mycoskie, whose company provides a free pair of shoes to needy children for every pair it sells to consumers, spoke for nearly 40 minutes Sept. 13 to a large and appreciative Chapel crowd in Moody Coliseum, and an online audience following via livestream.
He explained the history behind his One for One movement, and recounted the trials and tribulations of the 34-year-old entrepreneur’s enterprise that quickly outgrew his small apartment in California and this week, contributed its 1 millionth pair of shoes to children too poor to afford a pair, whether new or used. He had lunch with students from ACU’s Honors College, and spoke again that afternoon in a seminar hosted by the College of Business Administration.
Some 900 ACU students attended the Style Your Sole Party on Sept. 14, many spending the afternoon at open-air booths where they could paint, color, applique and otherwise customize their new canvas shoes. Or pay other students with better art ability to do it for them instead.
Ten other social justice-inspired businesses also set up booths to sell wares benefitting others in need, and engage students in dialogue about their ministries.  Among them were Eternal Threads, Hilltribers, Freedom Stones, Wishing Well, International Justice Mission, Mobile Medical Disaster Relief, and Nothing But Nets.
ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) foreshadowed the two TOMS events during his Inaugural Address in Moody Coliseum on Aug. 23, when few people noticed him wearing a black lace-up pair of TOMS as part of his academic regalia, until he revealed the reason.
“We used to buy shoes because of what it did for our feet. But TOMS’ kind of purposeful philanthropy does good things to our hearts. I know; that’s why I’m wearing a pair of TOMS this morning,” said Schubert, drawing a rousing cheer from students when he showed them and exclaimed, “I think they’re legit.”
He continued, “I like that this new pair of shoes – through TOMS’ One for One initiative – means a child on the other side of the world gets a new pair, too. And I like the message bringing people like Blake to campus sends to you: that ACU is serious about helping you hear and follow God’s call, discover how to lead and serve, and in so doing, make a real difference in the world.”
Foot and other fashion aside, it was a memorable two days to warm the hearts and clad the feet of more than 700 children with a product they’ll hopefully always associate with Abilene Christian’s generous university students.