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Posted: December 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Teen organizes blood drive

Montessori School student coordinates class service project

By Mandi Singer /

Service with a smile: Montessori School of Covington student Ilah Wiemann holds her sign-up sheet for a blood drive that she has organized at the school. The blood drive will be held from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Montessori School of Covingt...

 Most seventh graders use their Thanksgiving break as a time to lounge around the house playing video games or cruise the mall, but not Ilah Wiemann - she's busy organizing a community blood drive for the American Red Cross.
 Wiemann is a student at the Montessori School of Covington. A large component of a Montessori education, developed by Maria Montessori in 19th century Italy, is community service.
 "In middle school we are required to do one service project a year for our birthdays," Wiemann said. She is doing her's a bit early this year as her birthday is not until Feb. 21.
 Wiemann chose the project from a list given to her class by her teacher. She said she was the only one to choose a blood drive, probably because it had special meaning for her. She understands the importance of giving blood as one of her cousins had to have several blood transfusions as an infant, and is now a healthy teenager. So, she began to organize.
 "The first thing you do is you meet with a representative of the Red Cross and you tell her what you think you would like to do-where you want to host it - and she comes up with a date for you," Wiemann said.
 Once a date is selected, the Red Cross prints flyers for the person or organization coordinating the blood drive to distribute. Wiemann has placed flyers all over Covington from shopping centers to fire stations.
 She has knocked on the doors of the all the homes in Clark's Grove subdivision collecting names of those who plan to participate. She said she has had the most luck garnering participants at local fire stations.
 As a fruit of Wiemann's labor, approximately 20 people have signed up to give blood. If people couldn't be persuaded to participate simply to help out their fellow man, the Red Cross and Wieman have provided some incentive. Everyone who gives blood in the state of Georgia is placed in a raffle to win a $1,000 gas card. Wiemann has also secured gift certificates for Scoops ice cream, Merle Norman cosmetics as well as massages to be raffled off at the event. Snacks also will be provided for those giving blood.
 Wiemann said she was surprised at the amount of work that has gone into organizing a blood drive.
 "I thought that it would have been a lot easier and more people would have said yes than no," Wiemann said. "I didn't realize I would have to spend my days going around town knocking on doors and asking people to do this."
 She said many people who said they couldn't participate due to prior engagements or health conditions, wished her well or allowed her to post a flyer at their business.
 She also encouraged those who were unsure whether they could give blood to visit www.redcrossblood.org or call (800) 448-3543.
 Wiemann said she is no stranger to community service, having visiting retirement homes and collecting roadside litter in Montessori School projects during her seven years at the school.
 "When we're young, we're learning how to be adults," Wiemann said. "Montessori teaches you how to be part of a community."
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