How Jennifer makes an impact for foster teens

Jennifer De Lima is making a difference for teens whose lives are in turmoil.

Maybe it’s her big heart… or perhaps it’s her ingenuity, but this Colorado Springs mom and CASA volunteer knows how to bring people together for a purpose.

De Lima pulled off CASA’s holiday teen gift giveaway for two straight years. It was a time-consuming project which required her to record gift requests, solicit for donations, promote the cause, collect and sort the contributions, and then distribute them to the gracious teens. The hard work paid off though as 130 foster teens from the Pikes Peak Region received a holiday gift from CASA.

Some teens requested specific items while others were thrilled with a gift card donated by a community member. Some of the more interesting requests this year included a Harry Potter wand and a Pokemon costume.

De Lima also organizes a table at the CASA teen holiday party full of donated gifts for the teens to pick out and wrap up for their own loved ones. She knows efforts like this make an impact.

“Last year we started the giving table and I had a boy that said he didn’t have any loved ones to give gifts to,” she recalled about one of her more touching moments as a CASA volunteer. “So I told him to think of the people who care about him. At the end of the night, he gave me a ring from the table because he knew that I cared about him.”

De Lima’s involvement with CASA started back when The Hanger was located on Tejon Street. She would donate clothes, but it wasn’t long before she started volunteering.

“My mom was in foster care and I saw the effects that it had on her growing up. When I saw the kids coming into the store when I’d donate clothes, it just made me want to be a part of what CASA is doing for them,” she said.

She is now a seven-year veteran of The Hanger where she works as a Captain. The kids who shop at The Hanger benefit from having De Lima around not only for shopping days and holiday parties, but for CASA’s teen life skills classes as well.

Her favorite events that CASA offers to foster teens are the cooking classes and the graduation party.

“Cooking is a passion of mine and my mom didn’t know how to cook and was never taught how to cook,” she said. “To see these kids learn basic life skills is just really important for me. And at the graduation party, it’s so nice to recognize the hard work these kids put in. They rise above the stigma. It’s really nice to be able to recognize them.”

When she’s not volunteering for CASA’s many teen initiatives, De Lima enjoys cooking, watching movies, and hanging out with her daughter who by age eight already wants to be an environmental scientist.

Return to the 30 Stories in 30 Days webpage.