Rising junior Ellen Barker is living out the experience of a lifetime this week as she travels with employees of toms shoes to Nicaragua for a TOMS Giving trip.
As president of HPU's TOMS Campus Chapter, Barker was hand-selected for the giving trip due to her dedication to the chapter, its growth and high level of involvement on campus.
From June 23-28, she will travel to schools throughout the Central American country to distribute shoes to children in need, thereby living out the TOMS company motto of "Buy a pair, give a pair."
"I'm so excited," said Barker just before she left. "I'll be the only non-TOMS employee on the trip, and I can't wait to meet them and get to know these people who run such an amazing organization. But mostly, I can't wait see the look on the children's faces when I hand them a pair of shoes."
In addition to the distribution, the 11-person team will focus on the culture of Nicaragua and have reflection moments to ask question, note their favorite moment from the day or what they've learned.
"I'm going to keep a journal on the trip because I know that I will be a changed person with a new perspective by the time it ends," she says. "This is one of the most amazing opportunities I've ever received."
Stay tuned to highpoint for a reaction post from Barker when she returns from her trip.
Barker bought her first pair of toms shoes when she was in high school because she valued the company's "One for One" motto: for every pair of shoes it sells, the company donates a pair to a child in need. When she came to High Point University, she found a thriving TOMS campus chapter that had landed a spot on the "Top 10 Toms Events of the Year" for its awareness week. She immediately signed up to become a member and be involved at HPU.
Each year, the group hosts several events to spread the TOMS message of giving to their peers. This includes One Day Without Shoes, where hundreds of students pledge to go barefoot to raise awareness about the millions of children in developing countries that have to grow up barefoot. After the events caught the attention of toms shoes, they contacted Barker for a Skype interview and told her she had been selected as one of four campus chapter presidents in the country to embark on a TOMS Giving trip.
"I have to thank all of the HPU administration who are so supportive of our club," Barker says. "They've made it possible for us to organize our events, borrow equipment and make connections. HPU sets us up for success, and for that I am grateful."
In addition to the fulfillment that the HPU TOMS campus chapter brings Barker, she also knows this opportunity is important to her studies and future career.
"TOMS is a for-profit, and I really want to be in the business world someday," she says. "TOMS is the ideal company that I want to work for – one that is unique, progressive and full of youth and innovation. It's grown so much so quickly. I just love the business culture there, which is different from what people think of regarding accountants. I'm very social, but I like the detail-oriented nature of accounting. Working at toms shoes outletis basically my dream job."
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