Described by many as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, the Syrian Civil War has killed over 220,000 people and forced millions to leave their homes. According to the U.N., 6.6 million people are internally displaced and the country’s pre-war population of 23 million is in need of assistance.
Searching for safety, thousands of Syrians leave their country each day. Large families walk for miles through the night – always in fear of being kidnapped or shot by snipers.
As winter has quickly approached, the lives of refugees have become even more difficult, unsettling many and urging students to turn apathy into action.
Rhea Sullivan (Sophomore- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) felt especially motivated to do something long before the crisis hit media waves.
“People continue to have bombs dropped on them everyday in Syria. Whether they decide to stay and deal with the crisis there or get on a boat and cross the sea, they’re still facing two separate situations,” Sullivan said regarding the millions of displaced Syrians.
With Greek heritage and family members on the Islands of Chíos and Lesbos, where many refugee boats come to shore, Sullivan contemplated the best way to actively assist those in need.
Sullivan ultimately decided to partner with Global Aid Network (GAIN), a humanitarian organization focused on relieving suffering and restoring dignity by “addressing the most basic physical needs of people.”
With support from GAIN, her local church, and insight from those in Greece, Sullivan decided that providing warm blankets would be beneficial and effective to relief efforts.
“Blankets are of the highest necessity,” said Sullivan. “They are the most important because there is nothing to support the people who came over in summer outfits. Little children and adults are literally freezing.”
In efforts to combat the harsh weather conditions, Sullivan is leading the collection initiative at Penn State. She has already collected over 50 blankets and hopes to see an increase in donations. Upon receiving donations, Sullivan will deliver them to GAIN, who will in turn, ship them to various U.N. Syrian Refugee Camps overseas.
New and gently worn clothing and blankets can be donated on weekdays between 8am-5pm at the Presidential Leadership Academy Office in Atherton Hall. Donations will be accepted until March 18th.