The building trades program at Bedford Science and Technology Center is teaching Hunter Toms skills for a career in construction.

"I've learned a lot," said Toms, a senior in the building trades program.  "I didn't know much of anything coming in, but I feel like I could build a house now."

Technically, he's already done that.  Every two years students in Toms' program build a modular home and sell it to someone in the community.

"When you are selling these houses, you're marketing them to a select group," said Danny Thomas, a teacher in the building trades program.

In order for someone to buy the house, they have to already own land.  They also have to be willing to move the home themselves.

In recent years the school system has had a tough time finding someone who's willing and able to make the purchase.

"The economy has played a part, but there's more to it than that," Thomas said.

Instead of selling houses, the school system will now be giving them away. 

School leaders signed an agreement Thursday to partner with Bedford Habitat for Humanity.  Habitat volunteers will help students with construction, and the finished product will go to a family in need.

"Not only do our students get to build a home, but they get to know that the home they build is going to help somebody who wouldn't be able to get into that home on their own," said Bedford school superintendent, Douglas Schuch.

It's a "win-win" for both sides.  The new homes will go to rural parts of Bedford County, where it's harder for Habitat to recruit volunteers.

"If we're going to the far reaches of the county, it's just a lot of travel time for volunteers," said Gardner Simpkins, vice president of Bedford Habitat for Humanity.

Students will benefit by learning from Habitat professionals, and having the knowledge that their work is giving someone a place to call home.

"I think that's really neat," said Toms.  "To give away something that we've built is really cool."

When Habitat gives a home away, the person receiving the house usually had to put in "sweat equity," meaning they have to help build the house.  That will still be the case with the homes built by Bedford County Schools.