BYRON (WREX) — A Byron teen aims to give back to organizations that helped her while she was in need by providing coats.
Victoria Kuzlik and Coats for Hope celebrated their annual donation sorting day Saturday at Byron High School, sorting coats, hats, gloves, and other cold weather necessities into same size piles to be given to area shelters.
Almost six years ago, Victoria and her father Robert were affected by domestic violence and since then she has been using that personal struggle to help others. She started the coat collection and distribution organization Coats for Hope in hopes that she could provide survivors with items they may not be able to take with when escaping a domestic violence situation.
Since the start of Coats for Hope, Kuzlik has collected over 50,000 coats and thousands of dollars in donated funds to give back to area shelters and survivor resources. This year's donations will be split between the YWCA in Sterling, Illinois and The Family Peace Center in Rockford.
Kuzlik says it's all about letting those in need know there is always help just around the corner.
"Some people don't understand that there's actually help out there and it's nothing to be ashamed of to go get help and talk to someone about it," says Victoria. "Because there is a lot of horrible stigmatism about domestic violence and issues like this."
Victoria has been operating Coats for Hope since she was 11-years-old.