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Andrea's column: Shopping for a good cause

While catching up with friends on Facebook last month, I noticed an off-to-the-side ad for a cute pair of shoes. Red flats with a bow. Seven dollars a pair. What kind of shoes can you get for that price? I wondered. It reminded me of an episode of "That Girl" starring Marlo Thomas.

If you watched television between 1966 and 1971, you probably remember the sitcom about a wannabe actress named Ann Marie who works a lot of temp jobs because her acting gigs are few and far between. One of her temporary careers was selling shoes door-to-door.

The man who hired her was played by Jesse White, the beefy-faced actor who went on to play the lonely Maytag repairman in television commercials. White's character was a bit of a shyster and the shoes he supplied Ann Marie with fell apart the first time they were worn. Of course they did. They were made for dead people to wear in the casket and the body heat of a live person caused the glue to melt. I couldn't help but laugh as I remembered the episode and the chaos that ensued.

Not long after that, a department store sent an advertisement to me via email. More shoes. Just in time for spring, too. As I perused the pictures of sandals, flats, and sneakers, one pair caught my eye. Made of turquoise fabric that looks like linen but should probably be called canvas, they had thin rubber soles and lace trim. I could see them on my granddaughter who was going to visit relatives in the Sunshine State.

"She'll love them," my daughter responded when I sent a photo asking what she thought and which of the color choices would be best. Later that day, my granddaughter called to say she would indeed love them and turquoise was her favorite hue.

Ordering those shoes was a learning experience. I found out they are made by a company called TOMS which was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie. While traveling in Argentina, Mycoskie saw the difficulties faced by children who didn't have shoes. He would form a company that not only sold footwear but donated a pair for every pair sold. Called One for One, the idea has turned into a world movement.

He has written a book. "Start Something That Matters" was a New York Times bestseller and according to the TOMS website Mycoskie hopes the book "inspires others to turn their passion and dreams into a reality." The author has garnered praise and many awards for his philosophy of doing business. In fact, former President Clinton called him "one of the most interesting entrepreneurs (I've) ever met."

When I spoke with my granddaughter about her turquoise TOMS, I asked if she knew about the company, that when you purchase a pair of shoes a pair is donated to a child who otherwise would be barefoot. Of course she did. She has bought three pairs for herself. "My mom made me pay for them with my babysitting money, though, because they're kind of expensive," she said.

"Isn't that what grandmothers are for?" I asked my husband that night. He rolled his eyes but his smile told me he liked the idea of spoiling our granddaughter and helping a good cause at the same time.