Students, celebrities, churches and entire communities are kicking off their shoes and going barefoot Thursday to raise awareness about the many children who grow up without a pair.
"Walking to my car barefoot on the very cold concrete ... Show support, go barefoot today!" said one participant on TOMS' Twitter page.
Tens of thousands of people around the world have signed up to join TOMS' One Day Without Shoes and experience firsthand what going soleless feels like and how impactful a simple pair really is.
"Most people don't realize the amount of people in the world that don't have shoes," said Jamieson Cox, who organized an afternoon march at Penn State University, according to The Daily Collegian. "For people to just see us and start walking with us is our ultimate goal."
Though many are aware of the lack of food, water and shelter that plagues millions, people often overlook the feet, TOMS says.
"Food, shelter, AND shoes facilitate life’s fundamentals," says a statement by TOMS. "Imagine a life without shoes; constantly aware of the ground in front of you, suffering regular cuts and scrapes, tending to infection after each walk, and enduring not only terrain, but heat and cold."
A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Along with the risk of sickness, a shoeless life could mean a lost opportunity to receive an education. Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform.
There are more than 1,300 events listed for Thursday's One Day Without Shoes, many of which include barefoot walks on public streets and college campuses.
Celebrities including the Jonas Brothers, Kristen Bell, Jordin Sparks and Heather Graham have hopped on board.
High schoolers in the Washington, D.C., area are not allowed to go shoeless due to sanitation issues but students will still be participating by wearing shirts or buttons to promote the event. And on Friday, D.C. students will march on the National Mall barefoot after school.
Others who aren't able to go without shoes are participating virtually with their Facebook and Twitter avatars or simply by spreading the word on their social networking pages.
TOMS is asking participants to go either the whole day or just a few minutes without shoes.
The Venice, Calif.-based company was founded in 2006 on the simple premise that with every pair of shoes that is purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. Since its founding, TOMS has provided over 600,000 shoes to children around the world.
TOMS has also made a commitment through the Clinton Global Initiative to give 100,000 pairs of shoes to children in Haiti, where a million were left homeless after January's 7.0-magnitude earthquake.