On April 8, thousands of people across the country, and many people on this campus, went barefoot to experience what life is like without shoes.

“One Day Without Shoes” was sponsored by TOMS. The initiative of TOMS is simple, for every pair of shoes purchased, a pair of shoes will be donated to a child in need.

The Disney Corporation wanted to inspire 1 million people to volunteer in 2010. Disney, along with the Handson Network and Point of Light Institute sponsored “Give a day. Get a Disney day.” For just one day of volunteer work with an affiliated organization, a limited number of people received a free ticket to any Disney theme park.

There is a frightening trend in society. We are conditioning ourselves and younger generations to not be willing to give unless there is personal gain. On a much smaller scale, it is very easy to entice college students to do volunteer work by offering a free meal or t-shirt.

Not many of us really need another pair of shoes, but not many of us are willing to simply donate the money to TOMS and have the extra pair of shoes donated as well.

Similarly, many of us spend extra money on red products to fight AIDS in Africa or pink products for breast cancer research. Maybe sometimes these are products we were going to purchase anyway. Most of the time though, we are spending extra money on products that donate dismal proceeds to charity.

Volunteering for the sake of volunteering is a sure fire way to make anyone feel better. When there is something material to be gained, the experience is no longer the same. The good deed has lost its meaning. If this trend continues, eventually no one will freely give their time or resources.

After the recent earthquake in Haiti, “I Love Haiti” shirts started cropping up around the country. Most likely none of these people cared about the crisis in Haiti before the earthquake. If these people truly cared about Haiti, or if we truly cared about breast cancer, or AIDS, or children living without shoes, we would stop buying these products that we don’t need and just donate the money.

We do not have to be passionate about everything. It is ok if you don’t support breast cancer, colon cancer, starving children, blind children and the children without shoes. It’s not realistic to think that we can help save the entire world. We can make the things we do count, even on a small scale.

Instead of trying to be a supporter of everything, pick one or two small causes that are personally meaningful. It is more effective and more satisfying to place a majority of our efforts into one place. As college students, we aren’t always able to do much financially, but it is possible to donate what money we do have to offer effectively. It is important to research the products we buy and the organizations we donate to. Remember, many of these products only give a small portion of proceeds to any given cause.

Time is valuable. It is free for us to give our time to an organization trying to make a difference. Become a Big to an elementary student and take them to play basketball or help them with their homework. Sort clothes at the thrift store. Deliver meals on wheels. Build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Package relief boxes being sent overseas. The possibilities are endless and can be as big or small as we like and the satisfaction we get from giving is better than a lousy t-shirt any day.