Thanksgiving has just passed us. Looking outside, I see fallen leaves dressing the ground and gray skies threatening snow.

This is my last fall here in the Yakima Valley, since I plan to attend a four-year university after graduation next year, and I seem to appreciate these little things even more than usual. I guess I am even thankful for them. They have been constants in my life for the past 12 years.

This feeling of peace has led me to think of the many things I am thankful for: family, friends, health and opportunity.

But the holidays are not just about ourselves. They are about everyone we are connected to, near or far. This year I am thinking about how I have shared my thankfulness to those far away.

I recently purchased a pair of shoes called TOMS, which are made of cotton or canvass and are inspired by what Argentine farmers have worn for years.

My pair of TOMS is green, yellow and blue with faces of little children all over them. These shoes belong not only to me, but to another little boy or girl in some country that I know not where — but I know that when I purchased them I made someone’s life a little easier. Here is why:

TOMS has become the latest sensation among teens across the country, and even the world. From humble beginnings, this charitable shoe concept (now expanded into eyewear, accessories and various shoe styles) had a mission to help those in need. “One for One” is its motto.

In 2006, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina and made friends with the local children there. He noticed that the kids had no shoes and was very concerned for their well-being, since going barefoot in under-developed areas can lead to serious medical issues. He was so moved by what he saw that he felt he had to help them in some way.

Upon returning to the United States, he started TOMS, with the intent that for every shoe sold, a pair would be given away to a child in a different country. A year later, he and a friend returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes to give away.

He never could have imagined the success and effect such an endeavor could have become. Today, six years after TOMS formed, a nonprofit subsidiary of the company has given away 2 million pairs of shoes to boys and girls all around the world. The shoes themselves are made in several overseas countries, including Argentina.

By the time you have read this, dear reader, Thanksgiving has passed and the Black Friday insanity has calmed down and those brave enough to go out, like myself, are resting.

Now, we are gearing up for Christmas. I hope that the sentiments of giving thanks hold strong and true as we start our shopping for our loved one near and far. I would recommend TOMS as a gift for yourself or someone else and show some love to those we have never met, who are very far away and in need this Christmas.

A pair of shoes for Christmas for you and for someone in need: It’s the ultimate two-for-one sale this holiday season. TOMS shoes are available online at They can also be purchased locally at Vaux Shoes in the Westpark shopping area, and at Journeys in the Valley Mall.

• Peter Wachsmith is a senior at Naches Valley High School and a member of the Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed journalism program for high school students.