By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer
Being a teenager can be rough, especially during high school when bullies are lurking around every corner, waiting to strike with their vicious words. Sometimes it’s really difficult to ignore the insults, because children make a habit of bugging each other every day! Often, these taunts are focused on the way someone looks, especially if they can’t afford fancy clothing. It would be nice if parents could step in, but many kids are afraid of reporting their attackers.
Well, for then 16-year-old Allyson Ahlstrom, enough was enough. She created Threads for Teens, a clothing boutique that gives less-fortunate young ladies complete outfits to boost their self esteem. Girls ages 13-17 can visit the store and pick out clothing items they need for absolutely free! Ahlstrom has raised $140,000 in cash, received new clothing donations from stores like Hot Topic, and recruited 30 volunteers to help with the shop. Alhstrom is now 18, but still devotes much of her time to helping the needy.
In 2012, she was named one of 15 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes and awarded $10,000 in cash and a $7,500 educational scholarship for her outstanding work. Ahlstrom didn’t stop with clothes, either. She donated more than 70 backpacks filled with school supplies in her Annual Back-To-School Backpack Event.
So, what inspired her to dedicate her time to such selfless goals?! Well, she was motivated by the acts of teen kindness depicted in the book Generation Change: Roll Up Your Sleeves and Change the World by teenage author Zach Hunter. Less than a few months later, she founded Threads for Teens and opened a shop in a donated storefront in her hometown of Windsor, California.
Too often we focus on celebrities and forget that normal citizens can be role models, too. If we follow Allyson Ahlstrom’s words, then maybe we can start changing the world one sock at a time. “I truly believe that, if everybody does a little bit in their communities, no one has to do a lot,” she said. “I’m just trying to do my part.”
Images courtesy of Threads For Teens Facebook. Video courtesy of Allyson Ahlstrom on YouTube.