This month, CASA celebrates the ten-year anniversary of The Hanger, a store in CASA’s office that has changed the lives of more than 3,000 foster teens over the past decade!
The store gives children ages 12-21 living in out-of-home placement the opportunity to shop for free clothing, accessories, and personal items. It also offers job opportunities to build their resumes, and life skills classes to prepare them for the transition to adulthood when they reach 18 and age out of foster care.
The Hanger is more than a clothing store though. It’s a refuge which helps kids build self-esteem by choosing their own style, a luxury often taken for granted by kids not growing up in foster care. For kids who ARE growing up in the system, sometimes new outfits and stylish shoes are more difficult to come by.
“Sometimes it’s the little things that can change a vulnerable child’s life,” explains CASA Volunteer and Founder of The Hanger, Jane Hegstrom. “Clothing means a lot to teens. For foster teens especially, nurturing their self-esteem is so important if we want to help them overcome their trauma and succeed as adults.”
Jane was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (or CASA volunteer) back in 2012 when the idea for the store came to her. The inspiration was a teen girl whose case Jane was serving on. This teen had moved from a rural high school into a large Colorado Springs high school. After so many truancies, the girl finally confided in Jane she was ashamed to go to this large school in the same clothes day after day. Jane collected gift cards to ensure the girl could buy new clothes. She felt good about herself, returned to school, made good grades, and graduated.
“After watching this teen return to school with the self-confidence that cool clothing can provide to a girl, I wondered how many other teens would stay in school if they could just like the way they looked,” Jane said.
The Hanger opened in a donated location on Boulder St. in April of 2013. It was later housed in another donated space on Tejon St. before moving to its permanent home in the CASA building at 418 S. Weber St. in 2017. The space is completely run by volunteers. Thanks to community members who donate new or gently used teen clothing, the store has provided resources and clothing to teens every Saturday for ten years. Learn about donating to The Hanger here.