Students bare their soles

Hannah Altheide spoke to her professors, worked, walked around campus and drove her car Tuesday without shoes. The only time the Eastern New Mexico University junior wore shoes was during basketball practice.

Benna Sayyed: Clovis Media Inc.

Eastern New Mexico University junior Adriana De La Rosa, left, receives information about the One Day Without Shoes event from event coordinator Hannah Altheide, right, and event co-coordinator, Alexandria Weakley.

Altheide's shoeless day was intended to bring awareness to children around the world who go without shoes every day.

The El Paso native said at least 60 other students attended class barefoot to support her cause.

Altheide's public relations writing class at ENMU requires each student to study two organizations as a public relations case study. Although Altheide is receiving no class credit for Tuesday's event she saw the assignment as a great opportunity to bring One Day Without Shoes to ENMU.

"Today we spread awareness of the impact that one pair of shoes can have on a child's life, by taking off our own," said Altheide, event coordinator.

"Maybe it will make people think 'hey, maybe I should donate some shoes to the Salvation Army, maybe I should buy a pair of TOMS, maybe I should see what I can do to help other people in need.'"

TOMS shoes, founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2007, hosts One Day Without Shoes every year to help people experience what children without shoes all over the world experience everyday and realize that children without shoes can contract diseases, suffer from cuts and be refused admission into school.

TOMS delivered its one millionth pair of new shoes to a disadvantaged child in September 2010.

Altheide spent about a week and a half promoting the event by word of mouth and passing out flyers and stickers displaying phrases such as "A few feet can go a long way," "Ask me about my feet" and "I went without."

Altheide said she plans to put on the event next year and is considering creating an ENMU day without shoes. She hopes the event will become a tradition that other students will keep alive around campus.

"My brother goes to Texas Tech; they are doing it today, too," Altheide said.

"He said he's seen plenty of people walking around without shoes. They actually have a TOMS store there. We don't have that but we are trying to get it to grow."

Janet Bresenham, instructor of communication in the ENMU communications department, said Altheide's initiative exemplifies the sort of hands-on learning that she believes is important to her students' future careers.

"I have a great group of students right now who really want to make a difference in the world starting now," Bresenham said. "That's something that's very important to me, to help students understand they can make a difference in the world right now with the skills that they're learning."

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