Univ. raises awareness by going 'Barefoot for Nica'

By Katherine Schotz

Contributing Writer

The Bucknell Brigade sponsored the annual Day Without Shoes on Tuesday to benefit and raise awareness for poverty in Nicaragua. In addition to not wearing shoes throughout the day, students wore T-shirts to promote and explain the cause.

Due to inclement weather on the day of the event, most outdoor activities had to be canceled. One of the remaining activities was a picnic in Arches Lounge. These events were open to all, barefoot or not.

“The direct purpose of the event is to allow people to see first-hand how difficult it is to not have shoes,” said Katie McAvoy ’13, one of the event organizers. “This is something you’re able to witness when you travel to Nicaragua with the Brigade. One Day Without Shoes is [also] partially a fundraising event for the Brigade. The profits from the T-shirt sales will go towards the operating costs of a permanent health clinic that the Brigade has established in the community of Nueva Vida, Nicaragua.”

The student organizers were members of the Bucknell Brigade who had been affected by what they experienced while traveling and doing community service in Nicaragua.

“Being able to see first hand the kind of poverty that exists in Nicaragua was such a powerful experience for me, and I think that kind of opportunity also comes with a responsibility to spread awareness about what you have seen,” said Carolyn Breden ’12, who helped organize the event with Katie Janda ’13. “The Day With No Shoes event is unique because it encourages participants to empathize at a different level than simply looking at photos or hearing someone talk about what they’ve seen.”

The event is sponsored nationally by TOMS Shoes and seeks to raise awareness about poverty and how many people do not have shoes. The University focuses the day around Nicaragua because of the Brigade’s involvement there.

“The cause is important to me because I’ve traveled to Nicaragua with the Brigade, so I’ve seen some pretty extreme poverty first-hand,” McAvoy said.  “While in Nicaragua we visit ‘La Chureca,’ which is Managua’s city dump. Families live among the mountains of garbage, and a lot of the kids don’t have shoes. It’s hard for me to imagine not only living in a dump, but also not having shoes to navigate the dangerous trails. As a result, I’ve come to appreciate the value of having shoes, and I think One Day Without Shoes is a nice glimpse for students who haven’t traveled to a third-world country to begin to imagine life without shoes.”

The planning for the event began at the beginning of the year. The students did the majority of the work in organizing and planning the event, said Kristine Kengor, Assistant Director of Service Learning.

The event coordinators anticipated about 250 students to go without shoes and, while the weather discouraged some students from participating, many could be spotted walking barefoot on campus throughout the day.

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