MIT sophomore creates sleeping bags to help refugees in extreme climates

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Like so many people, MIT sophomore Vick Liu watched the Syrian refugree crisis from afar and wondered what he could do to help. But rather than be stricken by helplessness, Vick decided to take action.

“I really wanted to hit the ground running and start doing something to help people,” says the California native. “My whole goal in life is really just to impact people in a positive way.”

Vick is an Eagle Scout with lots of outdoors experience. He used that knowledge to help develop TravlerPack, a lightweight sleeping bag made to withstand the freezing temperatures endured in the winter by many refugees.

“They’re still suffering and there’s still a lot that can be done there,” says Liu of the refugee situation. “With my given skills, they are the people that I can help the most with what I know.”

The bag includes features specifically designed for refugees like a pocket for travel documents and a shoulder strap.

Like lots of good ideas, this one started with a few classmates in a college dorm room.

“The sewing machine was actually in my closet and all the raw materials were underneath my bed,” says Liu. “It was a very classic, you know, we’re trying to start something in our rooms as MIT students.”

Through the Go Fund Me website, Vick and his team have now raised enough money to send 250 sleeping bags to refugees in northern Syria. They’re expected to arrive there in December. The TravlerPack team has partnered with New Hampshire-based non-profit NuDay Syria to distribute the sleeping bags. Liu says the project has got him thinking about other ways to help people.

“Life’s too short not to help other people especially when I’m so blessed to go to a school like MIT and have all these resources available to me,” he says.

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