A different kind of clothing drive: Boutique truck serves needy teens

It’s not often that those in search of clothing donations are treated to an upscale boutique experience.

It’s also not often that a 14-year-old girl founds a nonprofit in service of her peers.

But, in an event that defied those improbabilities, the youth-run Threads for Teens fashion truck on Friday visited Philadelphia, the nonprofit’s 39th stop in a tour of the country’s 48 continental states.

About 20 foster children with the Court Appointed Special Advocates network of Philadelphia stopped by the tricked-out semi-truck parked outside XFinity Live!, leaving with bags of brand new threads donated by companies like Urban Outfitters, Stussy and American Eagle.

“It’s like a VIP shopping experience,” nonprofit founder Allyson Ahlstrom, now 18, said as she showed off the truck’s pink paneled walls, meticulously sorted clothing and curtained dressing rooms.

“Girls are treated with dignity when, sometimes, a lot of these girls aren’t treated with dignity wherever they go. Here, every girl is our friend, we are waiting on them – they are the superstars of the day.”

Ahlstrom at the age of 14 founded Threads for Teens, which she said started in 2010 as a clothing drive “that grew – a lot.”

“I didn’t know if I’d get one shirt donated, let alone to get enough to take over my living room and for my mom to say, ‘You need to find somewhere to put this stuff,’” she said.

Ahlstrom first filled a donated storage unit, then set up a physical shop inside an empty deli space in her hometown of Santa Rosa, Calif.

In a little over three years, she amassed over $135,000 worth of clothing and more than $82,000 in cash from more than 40 national donors and received accolades for her philanthropy from Nickelodeon, Coca-Cola and the Red Cross.

“I like to say that sometimes confidence can come from the outside in, and we definitely see that here at Threads for Teens,” she said.

“Girls can come in here a little shy and timid but then walk away feeling really powerful and successful because they know they look good in what they’re wearing.”

Despite the national acclaim, Ahlstrom’s Philly roots run deep – she three years ago received a cash grant from local women’s advocacy group Soroptimist to get Threads for Teens off the ground.

With the help of Ford and DenBeste Motorsports, who provided a fleet of vehicles, Ahlstrom decided this summer to take the show on the road, kicking off May 29 in Los Angeles with plans to wrap up in Vermont Aug. 5.

But it won’t be long before the teen returns to the City of Brotherly Love – she will this fall study business at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Economics.

“I would love to open a Threads for Teens here in Philadelphia,” she said.

“I want to maybe wait until I’m a sophomore – that way I can kind of get the hang of college and everything. But I definitely want Threads for Teens to be in all 50 states and I would love to help start the expansion.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…