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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

7/25: Columbus, OH

Columbus was an experience. Last year, the Crowne Plaza Columbus Downtown donated a one-night stay for us and hosted our event. This year, they were also kind enough to host us again! Juliann Beatty in the sales office, was so kind to help us out. She wanted to get more involved with Threads for Teens because she was so inspired from the previous year. Well, fortunately Thirty-One Gifts, an amazing bag direct sale company was having their annual weeklong conference in Columbus, right across the street from the Crowne Plaza Columbus Downtown. Knowing this, Juliann reached out to the head of charitable giving, Wendy, to let her know all about Threads for Teens. Thirty-One was really interested in Threads for Teens, especially since one of our main colors is pink ;)
 Through this, Juliann coordinated the donation of 1000 Thirty-One product from their Thirty-One Gives collection. Furthermore, the night we rolled into Columbus from Detroit, we were able to have dinner with several amazing women affiliated with the philanthropy aspect of Thirty-One. This included Wendy Bradshaw, Director of Philanthropy for Thirty-One Gives; Haley Kilpatrick, Director of Girl Talk; Ashley Haley, Senior Executive Director with Thirty-One; Lisa Niederberger, Senior Director at Thirty-One; and (UNTITLED). They were all extremely supportive of Threads for Teens, and truly interested in the mission. Haley Kilpatrick’s organization, Girl Talk works to raise self-esteem in teen girls (sound familiar). Girl Talk is one of Thirty-One’s national charity partners. Haley is such an incredible young lady, who I really look up to. She started her organization as a teenager as well, so it was incredibly insightful to talk to her for the short time I was able.
After dinner, they invited us to come to the convention and see what Thirty-One is all about in person! First of all, there were so many women everywhere!! 17,000 women attended the convention. As we were walking around, I am pretty sure Grandpa Gus felt slightly out of place! All of the women we were walking with were quite the celebrities and everyone kept stopping and asking to take pictures! Wendy was happy Grandpa Gus was with us because she had him be everyone’s ‘bodyguard’ so we could walk around the convention without it taking forever! First, they took us to a special room they had set-up for women to fill sanitary care packages. What was so special about this is that at the end, everyone writes a special note to place in the bags! We all filled a couple, and then started making our way toward the Thirty-One Gives booth.

The Thirty-One gives booth was really inspiring to see in person, because many women who do not normally volunteer were extremely interested in learning more about Girl Talk and the Ronald McDonald House (Thirty-Ones other national charity partner). We also met Haley’s mom, who was dressed up in a bright pink wig, telling everyone how she could bring Girl Talk to her communities. If you don’t already know about Thirty-One Gifts and Thirty-One Gives, I would highly recommend checking them out.

Onto Friday, where girls came out! Juliann from the Crowne Plaza Columbus Downtown made the most adorable sugar cookies with pink frosting for all of the girls, to match the Thirty-One Gives bags that were donated to us. Ashley Haley from Thirty-One also came in the morning to volunteer with us all day. She was in charge of passing out all of the Thirty-One bags and making sure the girls know about their inspiring mission. All of the girls were extremely grateful for the experience to come, and I got to talk with several of them about how this small gesture of new clothing would impact their lives for the better. One girl even wrote in the guest book, “It made me feel like I was special.” It is so sad that the girls who come to Threads for Teens don’t realize that they are special and are important and can accomplish anything. I keep stressing this because the girls who come are worth it, regardless of what they may be told or how they feel. Toward the end, Wendy and Haley also stopped by to see the mobile boutique in action. I am so grateful to be connected to such an amazing company as Thirty-One, which truly emphasizes girl empowerment.

I would like to end with something Juliann told me on the phone before we arrived in Columbus. When she was organizing all of this, she said to me that something I said to her last year really stuck in her mind. I said to her that Threads for Teens’ mission is complete if inspire one person to do something to make a difference for others or empower someone to go after his/her aspirations. Juliann told me I did exactly this when I said that to her and really took to heart how she could do something to help out. By making several phone calls, she has opened a great door of opportunity for Threads for Teens. Thank you Juliann! AND PLEASE, anyone who wants to help out with any type of organization, look at me or the example of Juliann. It only takes a small gesture to make a big difference.

Allyson Ahlstrom

Monday, July 28, 2014

7/24: Detroit from Allyson, Amy, and Grandpa Gus's POV

Allyson's POV

Some of the girls who came to shop! We are making crazy faces!!

Last year in Detroit, we had such an amazing turnout. All of the girls who came were so grateful to be at the mobile boutique and truly interested in Threads for Teens and how it was started. When scheduling the tour, I made sure to make a stop in Detroit because of the girls from the Matrix Center. The day started off slowly. Several girls referred by the Ennis Community Center came at the beginning.

Before this, once again we had our Claire’s volunteers! One of the ladies, Monica, volunteered at the Threads for Teens stop in Detroit last year, so I was excited to see her again. The other women, Maris, Timarie, and Jill were all also extremely helpful. We got the truck set-up in no time!
My wonderful Claire's volunteers :)

After our first girls from the Ennis Center stopped by, we had to wait about an hour before the Matrix Center literally brought a large yellow school bus filled with girls! As they were driving up, I could see the smiles on their faces from the excitement. They all got out, and quickly got in line. They were all so looking forward to come in that I could tell were eager to not be in line. In fact, sometimes I would grab stuff from boxes and girls would ask me to hold onto that stuff for when they got their turn.
Waiting for our first bus load!
Many of the girls had come to Threads for Teens last year, so it was nice to see some familiar faces. I enjoyed catching up, and even hearing that many were going to college or just had completed their first year at college. Since I just finished my first year as well, it was nice to have that small bond. Many of the girls expressed their hopes and dreams for the future, which amaze me. I find it so refreshing when anyone dreams big. In interviews I have stated many times that I strongly believe that if you work hard enough following your dreams, you will achieve some sort of success. When Threads for Teens was first thought of it was supposed to be a onetime clothing drive; however, it continued to grow and surpass all expectations I initially had for it. Please please please think of me at fourteen not knowing what I was doing, but making small steps toward it, when you may feel doubts about doing something. Think of many of the girls who came today, who may have not been from the best situations, but were still extremely hopeful for the future.

If anyone is from the Detroit area and looking to get involved with teen girls, please consider checking out the Ennis Community Center and the Matrix Center.


HUGS, HUGS, and more HUGS

Allyson Ahlstrom

Amy's POV

A different kind of photo being shared today, more about it in a bit. Detroit was where we stopped, and while it is out of our way as far as our driving goes, we had such great girls last year that we had to make sure to include them againfor this tour. 

46 girls came today, most in a big yellow school bus, and many that came last year. After the event last year, Allyson spoke to the girls as a group and answered all of their questions. These girls were so excited to be back this year and many said Allyson is their mentor and role model. Many girls graduated from high school this year and are so excited to be heading to college. They told us that

they know they can do and be anything because if a 14 year old girl was able to start something so big, then they can follow their dreams too. They were hugging Allyson, taking photos with her, and one of them following her around "helping". (Her name was Alice and she loved how close it was to Allyson.)

These are girls from some of the worst situations you could imagine, but they have hope and are going to break the cycle they've come from. This tour is difficult and a lot of work for us, but hearing these beautiful girls excitement truly makes it worth it. I don't even know how to put it into words.

Now back to the photo. When we arrived to "8-Mile" this morning, this guy offered to be my personal bodyguard for all of $4 cash and another $1 to buy a coffee. Instead, I showed him this pair of silver high tops in just his size. None of us know where these shoes came from, they just appeared a couple of days ago. Men's size 13. They fit perfectly and he told me he has a silver jumpsuit that they'll match. He also told me with tears in his eyes, "thank you so much, no one never gave me nothing for free."

All in all, a most fabulous day in Detroit, a city I'll never forget with girls that have deeply touched my heart two years in a row. For now, we're off to Columbus, OH to meet more amazing young ladies.

Grandpa Gus' POV
Yesterday's stop was in the "8 Mile of Detroit" . If you have watched the pawn shop series, Hardcore Pawn, that takes place in Detroit, we were in a vacant lot next to a community center right in the heart of the area.  Lots of very deserving young girls, anxious and grateful to receive five items of new, in style clothing including shoes and accessories. We even had one guy come by who offered to be a body guard for the day's activities for $4. Amy gave him a pair of size 13 silver moon boots that had appeared from nowhere and fit him perfectly. He said that it would go perfectly with his silver jump suit. He left, very happy, as he said that no-one had ever given him anything, and promised to come back in his silver outfit. We did not see him again - too bad!  Since there was ample security at the day's event, I slipped out for a a couple hours to fulfill one of my Bucket List items; The Henry Ford (museum). Note that I actually used a capital F in the word Ford, as this is one of the most fantastic museums I have ever seen, and worth a couple of days, not just the two hours that I spent trying to jamb 150 years of industrial history into my short stay. If you are ever even close to Dearborn, make it a destination........

7/23: Chicago

Pecan Butter and Blueberry Preserves Sandwich!
If you really like Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, you NEED to check out the pecan butter and blueberry preserve Panini sandwich from Elaine’s Coffee Call, which is connected to the Hotel Lincoln. Last year, the Hotel Lincoln also hosted last year, which is when I first discovered this incredible creation. Needless to say, I devoured the PB&J for breakfast and then bought a second one for lunch. We actually held our event a bit outside the city, so unfortunately we could not stay long to enjoy the quirkiness of the Hotel Lincoln. We left the hotel by 7:45am to make it to Hoffman Estates, where Claire’s Accessories Headquarters is located.

Claire's Volunteers, Nikia of
I have mentioned this many times in my blog posts, but Claire’s is really incredible in the sense that they have supplied volunteers for many of our stops and were so generous to let us park at their HQ. I would like to personally thank Maryann Porter for helping to arrange all of this. She is incredible and really the reason why Claire’s is on our side.

Setting up!
When we arrived Wednesday morning, we were greeted with seven amazing volunteers, who helped to get everything looking perfect in the mobile boutique. Also, Nikia Jefferson of, a local fashion blogger from Chicago, came out to volunteer! She is so super stylish, so make sure to check out her blog. She was also a great help to the girls, in making sure that they chose items that they loved and felt confident wearing. We were also given A TON of super cute new bags and backpacks from Claire’s! They really made the inside of the trailer look so much better with the way they were arranged. The local NBC affiliate also came to interview and check out the setup. They interviewed an adorable girl named Lexus and also myself. A bit later, after the interviews and toward the end of the day, they asked if they could get some b-roll footage of the bags because they had forgotten earlier. However, they were all gone! There had been at least thirty to thirty-five!! Bags are popular!

Being interviewed
More set-up
After the event was completed, Coartney from PR was kind enough to give us a tour of the inside of the HQ. My mom, Grandpa Gus, and I really enjoyed seeing the ‘mall’, which is basically where they stage how all stores should look. It was really cool to see six or seven Claire’s store in a row in a mall-like atmosphere.

After all of this, we had a several hour drive ahead of us to Detroit. Along the way, my mom thought it would be fun to be sneaky and take pictures of my sleeping in the backseat. In the process, she managed to snap an interesting picture of my revenge is putting it on the blog. ;)



Allyson Ahlstrom

Thursday, July 24, 2014

7/22: Indianapolis

Getting ready to go!
We had such a great time in Indianapolis! We arrived early in the morning at our location to set-up the mobile boutique, along with the help of several volunteers from Claire’s. As per usual, they were all super helpful and knew how to arrange everything so that it looked visually appealing. In fact, everything was color-coordinated so nicely that several girls complimented how the clothes looked on the rack! Also at our stop was fashion blogger Ashley Wottring of She was super stylish, and loved helping the girls choose clothing.

With the Claire's Volunteers and Ashley
Allyson, Ashley

Look at all the shoes!
Our location was the Martin Luther King Community Center. The staff there were so nice as to grill hot dogs and provide drinks and snacks to the girls who came to the event. I am in the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, which is headquartered in Indianapolis! I reached out to ZTA to let them know that I would be in town, so Ashley Martin from their Themis magazine came out to see the truck/trailer. ZTA stands for many values which I feel Threads for Teens and myself embody. I feel extremely lucky/blessed to be a member in such an amazing fraternity that emphasizes service and sisterhood. The local Fox affiliate also came to visit and film the event. I always enjoy talking to the news because that means I can get Threads for Teens’ mission out to so many more people.  I will post a link to the clip if I can find one!

Overall, 38 girls came to our stop in Indianapolis and all had such an awesome time. The girls specifically loved the shoes. Almost every single girl took a pair!! Clothing from the brand Maurice’s was also flying off the racks. They sent a shipment of twenty boxes to our Las Vegas stop and since then, we keep going through more and more boxes.

Stay tuned for CHITOWN!!!

Hugs and Kisses

Allyson Ahlstrom

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

7/21: Nashville

Laura Hutfless + CAA Team & Allyson
Claire's Volunteers
AHHH! I was so excited for Nashville. My mom, grandpa, and I are all huge country fans, so what a perfect city! My mom and I have been there several times and always enjoy being in the city. CAA (Creative Artists Agency) represents me personally and also Threads for Teens. They help to find opportunities for Threads for Teens with celebrities and corporate partnerships, which is so awesome. Laura Hutfless, is absolutely incredible and based out of the Nashville office. She drove by the truck last year and called me up because she thought it looked so cool! Everything since then has been amazing. Anyway, since I was coming to Nashville, Laura set it up so that some of the country singers on CAA’s roster would come out and volunteer with the girls. To make this possible, Laura enlisted the help of our awesome assistant, Wendy, who really spent so much time planning this event. She also even got a local PR agency, C2 to help publicize the event. Chelsea and Carly with C2 were both incredibly sweet to help us out.

Besides this, Claire’s Accessories once again sent out different district and store managers to volunteer at the stop. Nine wonderful volunteers showed up early, around 9:15am, ready to go! All of them were so amazingly helpful by going through boxes and getting the truck to look perfect for the girls. I am always so amazed at how nicely merchandised the truck looks when they are done going through it. They also set up the jewelry and shoes outside very nicely. Moving back to our country star volunteers, Danielle Bradbery was first.
First up, we had Danielle Bradbery stop by. She is the winner of season 4 of The Voice! She arrived a couple of minutes before the event was to start at 10am, all ready to go! She is such a sweetheart and was genuinely so excited to work with Aleetha, the girl she styled. Aleetha had a great time and chose some amazing items. Danielle just released her first self-titled album. Definitely check it out cause her music is fantastic!
Next up, we had rising star Sara Haze. I actually have met Sara before at different event related to Threads for Teens, so I enjoyed catching up a bit with her. She was super sweet and got really into styling her girls that came through. She was definitely having an absolute blast, right along with her girls.
Next up, Clara Henningsen from the Henningsens and Mickey Guyton showed up. Both girls were full of energy and eager to help. Mickey was great with the girls she was working with because she was constantly pushing them to try items they wouldn’t necessarily pick on their own. Clara was incredibly sweet and patient with the girl she was styling, which is definitely a must-have quality when helping someone shop!

Clara, Mickey, Allyson, Brooke, Cam
Lastly, Brooke Eden and Cam stopped by. Once again, these girl were really great with the girls. Sometimes it gets tough because it is hot in the trailer, but both girls were real troopers, pulling the la  Brooke was rocking an amazing bullet bracelet that she made herself and will soon be launching on her website to sell…definitely check them out because I was definitely salivating over the one she was wearing!
st girls through to the end.
Allyson, Kristen
Coco Jones, Allyson
 Toward the end, Coco Jones stopped by to say and donate some clothes! I was super excited to see her because I haven’t seen her since her Sweet 16 back in January. We caught up a little bit. Both of us are extremely looking forward to her M&G and back-to-school drive event at Threads for Teens on August 7th. Click HERE for more information! My friend Kristen from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards also made stopped by! She did a great community service project related to stopping childhood hunger. We were roommates at the program and instantly bonded. I was so excited to see her!

Overall, over 50 girls came to Nashville!! Afterwards, once again the Claire’s volunteers were incredibly helpful with cleaning up. Also, they were as much a part of the day as the country singers…they were always in the trailer helping style the girls along with outside the trailer manning the jewelry and shoes. Anyway, we got all packed up and were able to get some BBQ for lunch. What an AMAZING day.

NEXT UP: Indianapolis


Allyson Ahlstrom