Kelly Blessey, a third grade teacher at Redding Elementary School, has her students participate in One Day Without Shoes, a day of awareness by the One for One company — TOMS. Last spring, Ms. Blessey was one of 50 winners in the cheap toms Ticket to Give.TOMS is a company that gives a pair of new shoes to children in need when a pair of shoes is purchased. TOMS has also expanded to include the sales of eyewear, said Ms. Blessey. When a pair of TOMS eyewear is purchased, TOMS helps to restore someone’s sight in one of three ways — medical treatment, prescription eyeglasses, or sight-saving surgery.To spread awareness, Ms. Blessey participates in One Day Without Shoes, when she and participants go barefoot for the day and she educates her third grade students on how some people in the world, including children much like themselves, don’t have shoes.Through that day of awareness and following the TOMS company, Ms. Blessey found out about the Ticket to Give program. The program is an opportunity for cheap toms shoes “fans” to join the company on a giving trip to distribute new shoes to those in need, and visit eye clinics around the world.In previous years, Ms. Blessey said, the people selected to go on giving trips were randomly selected, but last year, people were able to enter themselves into the running to go on a giving trip.Each person had to write a 100-word essay and provide a photo and call it “ticket to …” said Ms. Blessey.As a Newtown resident, Ms. Blessey said, she was inspired by the 26 Acts of Kindness movement after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on Dec. 14, 2012.“But it’s not just because of Newtown,” she said. Ms. Blessey is also a cancer survivor and went through the process of adopting a child.“A lot more can be done,” she said.Through various social media outlets, Ms. Blessey was able to solicit votes. diacount toms then narrowed down the contestants to 50. Those 50 people, including Ms. Blessey, traveled to Los Angeles in June and visited the TOMS headquarters. Ms. Blessey was able to meet the other winners and hear their stories, she said.“We got to speak with the creator and why he started TOMS and where the company is going next,” said Ms. Blessey.
“It was a fun thing to do. It was an experience I never expected to have,” she said.The 50 winners were separated into smaller groups and traveled together to parts of Central and South America.In July, Ms. Blessey went with her group to Guatemala City as part of a giving trip to experience shoe and sight giving.While in Guatemala, Ms. Blessey went to an “internationally recognized vision clinic — Visualiza,” she said.Visualiza serves both the private and public sectors in the same building, she said.“Patients on the private side subsidize a small portion of the social sector’s care, while partners like TOMS help subsidize the rest,” she said in her blog to toms outlet.While visiting the clinic, Ms. Blessey said, she saw a woman have her eye patch removed after cataract surgery and be able to see again.Ms. Blessey said people as young as 12 years old start to have cataracts because they don’t have any eye protection.TOMS provides funds for the cataract surgeries and other medical treatments to recognized clinics like Visualiza because some people lack experience with quality medical care and worry about losing their eyesight that they do have, said Ms. Blessey.“They want it to be safe and effective,” she said.Ms. Blessey also got to meet with a service organization that provides educational services to women and children, she said.After Ms. Blessey returned home from her trip she was able to reflect and share her experience. Being a teacher, she used her lessons as a vessel.For the first time at Redding Elementary School this year Ms. Blessey invited her students to participate in World Sight Day on Oct. toms shoes outlet 10.Ms. Blessey said she has parents ask her students why their teacher is telling them, “It’s OK to #BESHADY” and the students respond with facts they’ve learned from Ms. Blessey.Students wore sunglasses all day and when they were asked why, the students educated those asking and raised awareness, she said.TOMS was using the hashtag “Be Shady” to promote and share the day around the world.Going forward, Ms. Blessey said, she will continue to participate in One Day Without Shoes and World Sight Day and any future days of awareness TOMS has to offer.To learn more about TOMS and its One for One campaign, visit toms.com.Tags: education, giving back, Guatemala, Kelly Blessey, Redding, Redding Elementary School, teacher, ticket to give, TOMs