Engineers Without Borders wants students to spend a day without shoes

By Kathleen Hauge

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has a challenge for students on campus.

The NIU student chapter of the national organization wants students to spend a day without shoes. By doing this, the group hopes to raise awareness about what children in developing areas of the globe lack.

Along with the day without shoes, Engineers Without Borders will host a shoe drive from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the MLK Commons.

EWB adviser Andrew Otieno said the organization is working with TOMS Shoes for the project. TOMS Shoes collects the donated footwear and sends them to developing countries.

“We forget how privileged we are, and it’s nice to take time and remember people that don’t have the basic necessities like shoes,” said senior communications major Adrienne Rufo.

The organization did the shoe drive for the first time in 2011, and the drive produced a truckload-sized amount of shoes for donation. Otieno said he hopes to double that amount this year.

The drive will raise money to send students on their implementation trip to Nyegina, a secondary Catholic school in Tanzania, Africa. The students are currently working on projects to help improve Nyegina.

“We got involved with Toms after being in Africa and seeing the children effected by poverty,” said EWB President Josh Ott.

Representatives from Kohl’s, Famous Footwear and Dell will be on hand at the event. Famous Footwear will hand out half-off coupons to anyone who donates a pair of shoes. Dell will enter donators into drawings for door prizes.

“It was very inspiring to see students participating and becoming aware,” Ott said. “Some people donated the shoes right off their feet.”

Ott said many students participated in the event last year, and he hopes that more donations come in this year. Any kind of shoes in any condition can be donated.