Northland High School teacher Elaine Blakely was able to be a conduit last week between students in the school's International Club and a "free store" operated by Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist.

Northland High School teacher Elaine Blakely was able to be a conduit last week between students in the school's International Club and a "free store" operated by Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist.

Blakely, who belongs to Church of the Good Shepherd, is an English-as-a-Second-Language and mathematics teacher at the high school and an adviser to the International Club at NHS.

"Over the last couple of years, we have supported projects overseas," Blakely said last week. "Sometimes things are needed in our own backyard."

That's why she brought the new Good Shepherd Free Store to the attention of International Club members, who raised money in October on Sweetest Day, which they used to purchase fleece.

The fleece was used to make the blankets that were given to the Free Store.

Members of the church, at 6176 Sharon Woods Blvd., created the Good Shepherd Free Store earlier this year to provide people in need with clothing and small household items, according to a posting on Facebook from member Harry Yeprem.

While quantities are limited, Yeprem wrote, those seeking such goods may pick them up -- free, as the name implies -- at the Northland-area church on the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Donations for the store are accepted every Wednesday between 10 and 11 a.m. and again from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The International Club at NHS has 30 to 40 members and has been in existence since 2004. Its purpose, according to Blakely, is to learn about other cultures and to do service projects.

The other club advisers are Deb Shepherd, also an ESL instructor, teaching assistant Sharon Garner and librarian JoAnn Smith.

"Our students tend to be very service-oriented, and so what we hope to do is service learning," Blakely said. "The students research and listen to what's going on. We have found in the past their first response is, 'What can we do to help?' "

That was certainly the response, she added, when she told them about the church's new effort to help the less fortunate in the Northland area.