TOMS Shoes Saving Lives, One Sole at a Time

For every pair of TOMS sold, another pair is donated to kids in need.

Sept. 3, 2009 -- Every year, nearly 10 million children under the age of 5 die from largely preventable causes, according to UNICEF. Something as simple as not having a pair of shoes can lead to a deadly infection in many parts of the world.

Blake Mycoskie, 33, saw this firsthand on a trip to Argentina. What he saw sparked an idea and launched a movement that is now saving children's lives.

Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes is on a mission, covering soles to save lives.

"For me, it's much bigger than the shoes," he told "Good Morning America." "When they are just realizing that we care about them, and that they're so valuable that we want to give them a new pair of shoes."

For every pair of TOMS sold online and in stores, another pair is donated to kids in need around the world, Mycoskie said.

Combining business and philanthropy, TOMS has given an estimated 150,000 pairs of shoes to kids in Argentina, South Africa, Ethiopia, the United States and elsewhere. This year, they hope to give away another 300,000 pairs.

So how do they stay in business?

"It was much easier to sustain the giving, because we're not dependent on donors," Mycoskie explained. "And in an economy like this, we're able to give as many or more shoes as we can, because we're still selling our inexpensive TOMS Shoes."

People have difficulty grasping the importance of shoes over food or education.

"Earlier this year, I got to meet Bill Gates," he said. "And he said, 'You know, 50 percent of the infectious diseases in the world can be prevented with two things. Toilets and shoes. So, keep doing what you're doing.'"

Click Here for more information about Toms Shoes and to find out how you can help.

Style Your Sole

At the Langston Hughes Academy in New Orleans, Mycoskie and 30 volunteers organized a "Style Your Soul" shoe drop to give kids a fresh pair of shoes for the school year.

Letting kids design their own shoes was key.

"A lot of kids have shoes," said Mycoskie. "But it's their only pair of shoes. And typically it's a black pair of shoes. So, I thought how fun is it to give them a day where not only do they get a new pair of shoes that's their very own, but they get to design it themselves."

Since there are only 50 full time employees, much of what TOMS Shoes accomplishes is done by his mom, Pam, and enthusiastic volunteers. They were all moved by the message of giving and the smiles and hugs from kids in need.

"There are so many diseases, so many problems in the U.S. and outside the U.S. And I personally can't attack 'em all," he said. "But I did this. And I got started. And now it's my life."

For those who want to make a difference but don't know where to start, Mycoskie has this advice.

"Don't wait for perfect timing. Don't think that you've got to be in this perfect place. Just do it. Just go out there and -- and if it's a little thing, just one person you're making a difference," he said. "The ripple effect of that is incredible."

Click Here for more information about TOMS Shoes and to find out how you can help.