From my story on 93 WIBC and wibc.com on the Threads For Teens tour, which came through Indy last week:
Some teens getting ready for their first year of college use the summer to relax, plan their move or say goodbye to hometown friends. Allyson Ahlstrom is using the summer before her freshman year to help other teens in need, something she has been doing the last four years.
Ahlstrom was in Indianapolis as her non-profit “Threads For Teens” continues a nationwide tour. 20 underprivileged girls selected by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) got to pick out clothes and accessories during a personal shopping session with Ahlstrom at a semi trailer-turned pink fashion boutique outside the Conrad hotel downtown.
Many teenage girls spend their days occupied with school activities, dating, friends and family – not necessarily in that order. Ahlstrom has wanted to help other teens since her freshman year of high school, when she read a book about young people and their service projects. “There was one 12-year-old who was doing these incredible things with human trafficking, and I was like ‘oh my gosh, I’m 14. I’m like two years behind this kid,” Ahlstrom said. Giving away clothes was a natural fit. “I was really into fashion and wanted to be a fashion designer. I thought what could I do to combine my love of service with my love of fashion, so I got the idea to do a clothing drive.”
Allyson set up a storefront in her hometown of Santa Rosa, California, and she receives donations from well known companies, such as Urban Outfitters, OPI Nail Polish, and American Eagle Outfitters. “I constantly am sending out letters asking for donations, and you never know who is going to see the truck or who will come across the website.” Earlier this year, Ahlstrom was named one of America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers, an award given to her to by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix.
This summer’s tour, which began in Los Angeles in May, began with Allyson’s desire to do clothing drives in all 50 states. “I started planning this last summer, sending out letters, asking for donations, and it’s really cool to see it all working out.” All of the clothes and accessories donated are brand new, and each girl got to choose any three items she wanted from the pink semi/boutique.
Ahlstrom heads to the University of Pennsylvania shortly after her tour concludes in Burlington, Vermont in August. “I love doing the business side of Threads for Teens, so I’ll be going to the Wharton School (of Business) to major in economics,” Ahlstrom said. No doubt she’ll continue to help people because, as she puts it, if a girl feels good about herself, she’s more likely to do well. “It’s the opportunity to be treated with dignity and to be able to choose an outfit the girl in which the girl feels confident. Confidence can come from the outside in.”