An East Tennessee business class is taking technology to the community. 

Virtual Enterprise students at Bearden High School created a simulated company that has already collected 1,112 donated socks for Knoxville’s homeless shelters. 

After a competitive interview process, each student in the class is assigned his or her own job, from company CEO to chief marketing officer. 

“They work together to put together a business model and decide what kind of business they want to be, what products they want to market, how they’re going to promote themselves, and everything else a real-world business would do,” Kathy McCoy, business teacher at Bearden High School, said. 

The virtual business was created by the students themselves.

They decided on a company called “Global Warning: Warming the Earth, One Sock at a Time.” The business aims to provide East Tennessee shelters with hundreds of socks for the homeless.

The team spent the past couple of weeks going around the community, visiting local businesses and promoting the cause online to raise these much-needed donations.

“From the start, we wanted to create a company that benefited the community,” Zachary Hull, Bearden High School junior, said. “We want to bring a good connotation to it, so maybe instead of thinking bad global warming, they’ll think of it a different way: giving the socks back to the homeless shelters and making the community better.”

After researching the topic, students discovered the wide demand and market potential for socks around the world.

More importantly, they learned these materials to be particularly needed among the homeless, with socks being the most requested clothing item at shelters nationwide.

Students found sock drives to be a cause that local businesses and community members are happy to get behind. The class originally set a goal to collect 900 socks this month and has already surpassed that number in just two weeks.

“The idea of donating socks to help the community is a cause people want to help out, so seeing all the socks come in wasn’t too surprising in the end,” Kelly Haaland, Bearden High School senior, said.

The class is not only making a difference in the community but also in the lives of students, who said they will carry the lessons learned in this Virtual Enterprises course well into their professional futures.

“Usually in traditional text book classes, you remember things for a test and forget after you’re done, but for this class, I feel these are skills that I am going to use for my entire career,” Sandra Gutierrez, Bearden High School senior, said.

The Bearden High School students are preparing to compete against other Virtual Enterprise businesses, run by students, around the country.

A conference will be held at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge on Nov. 19 and 20. More than 1,600 students from seven states are expected to attend.