CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – The fighting in Syria has displaced thousands of people, and with winter coming, the plight of some of them may only get worse. A local college student is trying to help some of those refugees with a low cost sleeping bag he wants to distribute across the Middle East.
The MIT sophomore came up with the design in his dorm room. “For refugees who are living either in camps or resettlement areas, it’s very tough to stay warm,” says 19-year-old Vick Liu. “There was such a large group of people who were suffering, and I was just trying to figure out how can I help.”
Wanting to help turned into a sleeping bag design that Vick drew on a napkin. He sewed the prototype in his dorm room. “We actually kept the sewing machine in my closet and the raw materials under my bed,” he says.
The sleeping bag he came up with is inexpensive, light and versatile and called the TravlerPack. “It can help someone stay warm down to 15-degrees Fahrenheit. It’s $50 to manufacture and ship to Syria,” he says.
A shoulder strap makes it easy to carry, and pockets inside and out mean travel papers, money and other small possessions are relatively secure. Vick raised enough money online to manufacture 250 sleeping bags. “They should reach Syria around late December, early January, right in time for the coldest part of the winter,” he says.
Phase 2 is even bigger. “We are trying to raise money for 1,000 bags, and that should be $50,000,” he says.
Vick is working with a New Hampshire non-profit called NuDay Syria which will distribute the sleeping bags.
For more information or to donate visit Vick’s GoFundMe page.