A group of students at Upper Arlington High School is receiving hands-on business experience while raising money to provide warm socks to people in need and prosthetic legs to amputees around the world.
Since Sept. 21, International Baccalaureate business students at UAHS have been selling packs of colorful socks online and to their classmates and teachers as part of a service-learning project that's teaching them about sales and marketing, but also helping others.
The "Socktober" project will extend through Dec. 1. Students are partnering with the nonprofit organization We Help Two so that proceeds from local sock sales are used to buy prosthetic legs for amputees throughout the world.
As of Oct. 19, the students had sold nearly 300 packs of socks and brought in another $250 in donations.
That was enough to buy two prosthetic legs for a 7-year-old girl in Uganda. The students have a goal of selling at least 1,280 packs of socks so they can support the purchase of prosthetics for 16 people.
Additionally, with the 60 percent of revenue the arrangement allows the class to keep, the students plan to select a needs-based organization to support, which will use the money to purchase warm socks for underprivileged people to wear this winter.
"For every 80 sets of socks we sell, a prosthetic leg is donated to an amputee that couldn't normally afford one," said Eva Frustaci, chairwoman of UAHS' Business Education Department. "We are currently researching where to donate (additional) prosthetics and the warm socks.
"We are doing this for a number of reasons. One, we want to help as many amputees as possible. Additionally, service learning is a great way for students to learn the content of the curriculum in an authentic, project-based manner, while still helping others that are less fortunate."
Frustaci said UAHS IB coordinator Cynthia Ballheim proposed Socktober as a way of bringing a cross-curricular project to IB business students and to IB sports management students who are building prosthetic models.
IB business students sell the socks each school day during lunch periods. The socks also are available at tinyurl.com/ uasocktober.
IB business students Sami Hidmi and Blake Showe, both seniors at UAHS, also manned a table at the high school Oct. 19, when parents visited for parent-teacher conferences.
"We think it's a great learning opportunity," Hidmi said. "We're learning business while we're completing a curriculum objective."
Showe noted that in addition to learning about the various channels one must follow to set up a partnership with We Help Two, the class also had to learn about procedures it must follow to take its sales outside the high school, including the internet and to other local middle schools.
"I think we're basically done pushing it in the high school," Showe said. "We're looking to expand, which is why we also have a website where you can buy."
Frustaci briefly instructed Hidmi and Showe Oct. 19 on the importance of overcoming barriers such as shyness to introduce passersby to the products and causes they support.
But from there, she let them navigate the sales and marketing waters themselves.
"This is the first time we have done this project at UA, but are planning to continue it next year, with the focus being 'Learning for Water' in which socks sold will help fund wells and clean drinking water to areas that do not have it," Frustaci said. "My goal is that students learn the objectives of the curriculum while working in an authentic manner and helping as many people as possible in the process.
"I want these students to understand they are changing lives," she said. "I am hoping they will be inspired after they graduate to continue to help others and be the best they can be."