Allyson Ahlstrom

Allyson, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, created a full-service clothing boutique that has allowed over 1500 girls in need to each pick out two brand-new outfits for free over the past three years. Her “Threads for Teens” nonprofit has also provided 130 girls with backpacks filled with school supplies, and has given out 100 prom dresses. Allyson got her inspiration from a book she received as a Christmas present, which told the stories of teens who had undertaken remarkable service projects. Realizing how important clothes can be to a teenage girl’s self-esteem and dignity, Allyson decided that she would try to make a difference by making new, fashionable clothing available to girls in foster care or other situations of poverty.

She immediately sent letters and email notes to more than 300 companies and stores, asking for clothing donations. Within a couple hours, she had her first donation and the responses grew quickly from then on. “I didn’t know that people would be so inclined to help with something like this,” she said. “When I started out I had no idea I’d get to where I am now.” To date, she has received more than $100,000 in monetary contributions and over $200,000 in clothing donations that include more than 40 national brands, such as Urban Outfitters, Claire’s, Francesca’s Collections and American Eagle Outfitters. When girls make appointments to shop at Allyson’s boutique, located in a local storefront donated by a property management company, they browse through the racks of new clothes and accessories, and pick out two head-to-toe outfits. This past summer, Allyson took her Threads for Teens to the road, and visited the 48 continental states. A semi-truck was converted into a 60 foot long mobile boutique, where over 1,000 girls across the United States were able to come and pick up a brand-new outfit.