The likelihood that you have always had shoes, is high. It is a need that is usually filled before you even realize that you need them. In America, before children are even born their parents have purchased them their first pair of teeny tiny adorable baby shoes and anticipate the day they get to slip them on their feet and admire how cute they look. Then, the baby outgrows them before they can even wear them a second time and they are stored away in perfect condition as if they’d never been worn.
Unfortunately, this was not the case for Argentinian children prior to 2006 as thousands went without shoes through their youth and faced many challenges due to their inability to purchase footwear. Blisters, sores & infections ran rampant throughout the poor in Argentina and to a tourist visitor named Blake Mycoskie, there had to be a fix. As she traveled around the country with a local organization that repurposed old donated shoes, she decided there had to be something more she could do.
With giving at its core, Tomorrow Shoes (TOMS) was born. Each pair of shoes purchased led to 1 pair of shoes being provided to a child in need. Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder, wanted to create a business with giving at its core, developed around something everyone needs and purchases anyway. Humans are inherently driven to do good and she knew if you were given a choice between purchasing a pair of shoes just because or a pair of shoes that also gives to a child in need a pair, more often than not you’d choose the “give back” pair. She hoped to create a wave of commitment from consumers that desired to make a difference through simply purchasing a pair of shoes.
Many companies followed the footsteps that Blake laid and became driven by causes that mattered to them and thus developed give back programs of their own. Those organizations all showed that every one of us learned something from her example. Her leap defined citizenship to its core. She was able to push forward a cause that mattered to her and in doing so she impacted the lives of thousands of children and their families.
Though the TOMS story is a dramatic example of citizenship, it isn’t always demonstrated in such a dramatic and large way. It often is demonstrated through a very simple act. Sometimes it is as simple as sharing details about a fundraiser in a conversation with your friends. Sharing how this cause is near to your heart and they should consider participating or donating. Other times it is volunteering your time to be a board member for an organization that is having an impact in your local community. However it looks for you, citizenship means actively becoming involved in causes that are important to you.
As you explore what citizenship means to you ask yourself what is a cause you are passionate about and what can you individually do to contribute? Once you identify a cause or a few causes that matters to you, it becomes easy to get involved because your passion will drive you.