Carlow student’s charitable heart has sole
Dozens of children abroad and locally owe their soles to Carlow University senior Emily Kolek.
She organized a campuswide event through Carlow’s chapter of the TOMS Shoes Campus Club, which she founded. For every pair of TOMS canvas shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in a developing country.
“It’s great knowing that when you purchase a pair, a child is getting a pair as well,” said Kolek, 21. “Since it’s the holiday season, we wanted to give back to the community in some way.”
Undergraduate students bought 50 pairs of shoes. The university’s student activity fee helped cover about half the cost of each pair. The students are invited to a “Style Your Sole” event next Thursday, where they’ll decorate their shoes using acrylic paints, stencils and fabrics.
The students will watch a documentary about TOMS and a faculty member will talk about social, ethical and business issues.
Founded in 2006, TOMS is a Santa Monica-based shoe company that makes canvas slip-ons.
“It’s a way for students to learn about TOMS in a fun way,” said Kolek, who is majoring in corporate communications.
As part of the event, faculty and staff sponsored 20 pairs of pink “Tiny TOMS” that will be donated to the Latino Family Center in Squirrel Hill in time for its holiday celebration.
The center serves about 60 families with children up to age 5. Center Director Samaria Arzola said it was tough to choose which girls would get shoes.
“I looked for the families who will need it most to help them finish their Christmas,” she said. “Moms like to dress (their daughters) for the Christmas fiesta… They won’t have to worry about the shoes to match their dress.”
Since enrolling at Carlow, Kolek — who is a Brackenridge native and Highlands High School graduate — has kept busy with charity work. She’s the president of Women in Communication, a campus organization that does monthly service projects, and is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity.
During an internship last year with Big Brothers Big Sisters, she organized the first Fashions for Kids’ Sake fashion show. The local chapter of the child-mentoring organization again will sponsor the event this year.
As part of Carlow students’ mentoring program with Allderdice High School students, the students will style their own TOMS and model them in the show, Kolek said.
Kolek said she’ll continue her work with TOMS in the spring term. She’s hoping to connect with other TOMS campus groups for the company’s “Day Without Shoes” awareness event in April.
“If we did it with a lot more people and walked down Fifth or Forbes avenues, it would have a much bigger impact,” she said.