Hollywood came to Windsor on Thursday and brought with it camera crews, a TV celebrity and a life-altering surprise to boot.
The spotlight was trained on Cardinal Newman senior Allyson Ahlstrom, who in two years built an idea into a full-blown fashion boutique, Threads for Teens. The store serves disadvantaged girls at a storefront in downtown Windsor.
Ahlstrom, 17, and a group of friends were excused from school after morning classes Thursday to be interviewed at the store by a Nickelodeon television crew for an online series about community service.
Or so they thought.
"Hello, delivery," said a man as he backed into the store, rolling a stack of boxes in on a dolly.
Then he turned around.
Actor Nick Cannon, host of the TV show "America's Got Talent," had come to Ahlstrom's storefront Thursday to hand her a facsimile check for $10,000.
Ahlstrom is among four teenagers from across the country chosen to receive the network's 2012 TeenNick HALO, or Helping and Leading Others, Award, which honors teens doing good deeds.
In the next few weeks, Ahlstrom will be flown to an undisclosed location to meet a yet-unnamed celebrity. The footage will air in November during a live awards program in Los Angeles.
"We're going to celebrate catwalk style," said Cannon, leading Ahlstrom and her friends in a giddy and goofy circle around a table piled with donated designer clothes.
This was, of course, all before a wall of cameras, boom mikes and assistants wielding clipboards and ear pieces. Ahlstrom and her friends were shuffled through several takes with Cannon. Wide shot, close-up, surprise, clap and repeat.
But the Hollywood pageantry did not diminish Ahlstrom's genuine awe for the recognition her project has received.
"I never expected . . ." Ahlstrom said. "This was crazy. Oh my gosh."
The idea for Threads for Teens came to Ahlstrom in 2010 when she was 14. Ahlstrom loves fashion. She figured most girls her age did, too, and wanted to help teens whose families can't afford expensive clothes.
"It's about self-esteem and dignity," Ahlstrom said. "The mission has always been to inspire teen girls to live out their dreams."
She wrote a stack of letters to fashion designers asking for donations.
In two years, she moved the project from her family's living room to a shop outside town and then to the McClelland Drive store decked out with pink-and-black walls and classy displays. She's received more than $130,000 in donated clothes, purses, shoes and more.
The store is open by appointment only, which she arranges with social service agencies, high school counselors and other groups that work with teens.
The project has garnered national attention for the Santa Rosa teen.
Earlier this year, Ahlstrom received a local Teen Jefferson Award for community service from San Francisco KPIX-TV. The Jefferson Awards are a national recognition program honoring public service.
She was given $10,000 in June from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation.
She is currently one of four finalists for the Glamour magazine Readers' Choice award for Woman of the Year, which will be announced later this fall.
Ahlstrom is planning a national tour next summer for Threads For Teens, where she will outfit 1,000 underprivileged girls from a mobile boutique visiting each of the 48 contiguous states.
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