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Coats for Hope marks 7 years helping others

What started as a healing project for one Byron girl turned into a 7 year labor of love that helps families across the Stateline.
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT
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LOVES PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - Bob Kuzlik said he and his daughter Tori are survivors of domestic violence.

“It became verbal against me. It turned physical. The minute I came home one day, and found it had turned physical toward Tori, that was it,” said Kuzlik. “We were done.”

Counseling helped them through the toughest times, but Tori, whose full name is Victoria, said the experience compelled her to help others in similar situations.

“She said I want to give back to the shelter and do a coat drive,” said Kuzlik.

Coats for Hope started with just a few boxes at Byron Middle School when Tori was 11 years old. She’s 18 now, and her philanthropic effort reaches across the state lines and helps thousands of people. Tori will graduate in May, but has not picked out a college or university yet. Her project will travel with her, she said.

“The fact that seven years later this is happening, is mind blowing. I don’t think my 11-year-old self would understand like hey, you’re in a really crappy spot in your life, but you’re going to help however many people,” said Tori Kuzlik.

This year’s goal is at least 3,000 coats and a minimum of $15,000, which will help four domestic violence shelters.

“I’m hoping with getting my story out there, and helping people realize that there is help out there,” said Tori Kuzlik. “They’ll be able to get out of the instances, and be able to break free of it.”

This year’s donations will support two YWCA locations, the Rockford Family Peace Center, and the Association for Prevention of Family Violence. If you’d like to donate you can go to coatsforhope.org.

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