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The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif., Chris Smith column
[November 19, 2012]

The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif., Chris Smith column

Nov 19, 2012 (The Press Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Here's what went through the mind of Santa Rosa 17-year-old Allyson Ahlstrom the other night as she stood, dressed like a star, on the stage of the decked-out Hollywood Palladium.

"I was thinking, how the heck did this happen " How indeed.

Allyson was there, honored by Nickelodeon as one of just four U.S. teens to be paired with a celebrity and presented a TeenNick HALO (Helping and Leading Others) Award, because she'd acted on an idea.


In 2010 she thought to help disadvantaged girls boost their confidence, self-esteem and prospects by providing them nice clothes at a fashionable non-profit boutique. Then she did the work to create the Threads for Teens shop in Windsor.

It flourishes. So does she.

Allyson had attracted numerous other honors when Nick Cannon of Nickelodeon and "America's Got Talent" showed up at her boutique in October. He announced she was a HALO winner and gave her shop a check for $10,000.

Allyson then was teamed with model, entrepreneur and youth mentor Tyra Banks in preparation for the awards gala last weekend at the Palladium. The special aired Monday on Nick at Nite and will replay at 10 tonight on TeenNick.

Weeks before the gala, cameras rolled as Allyson met up with Tyra Banks in New York, had breakfast with her, tried on outfits and learned about the program Banks runs for teens at the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

"I want to emulate her," Allyson said. She intends, too, to talk about Threads for Teens and service to others across America on a tour she'll launch late next spring.

There she goes, demon- strating the power of one.

BLANKET BROOKLYN: Where we left it on Sunday, Santa Rosa's Marlene Scinto sought to get her 100 or so handmade fleece blankets to storm-scourged Brooklyn ASAP and was looking for an agency to receive them.

Since then, friends Kathy and Steve Langs hooked her up with daughter Leslie, a music editor in Brooklyn who's pitching in with disaster relief at St. Jacobi Lutheran Church.

Volunteers there have told Scinto by phone they can't wait to receive her blankets and get them to people who are cold and suffering.

"I'm so glad I made the connection," Scinto said. Her blankets will ship today.

POSTCARDS FOR KIDS: Teacher Gina Godfrey's idea to make American geography more real for her Monroe Elementary fifth-graders is to invite people to send them postcards from all 50 states.

So far, the class has received in the mail postcards from about half that many.

"They get so excited," Godfrey said. "At first they didn't know what a postcard was or why people even send them." To help out, contact friends or relatives out of state and ask them to buy a picture postcard or two, write something about their state and mail them to Mrs. Godfrey's Class, Monroe Elementary, 2567 Marlow Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

She imagines each of 25 kids poring over a stack of 50.

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

___ (c)2012 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.) Visit The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.) at www.pressdemocrat.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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