Most juniors in high school will enroll in a mentorship program or shadow a professional for their senior projects. Hunter Wart, now 19, however, decided to invest his time in raising money and installing a Safe Haven Baby Box in Seymour, Indiana. The project took over a year mowing lawns and scrapping metal to raise the $10,000 needed for the project.
“It was a lot of hard work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears,” revealed the teen’s mother Julia Kwasniewski.
This particular Safe Haven Baby Box was installed at Seymour Fire Department and is one of 24 Safe Haven Baby Boxes installed across the nation since 2016. Monica Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant herself, founded the non-profit organization behind these boxes in an attempt to give distressed new moms a safe place to leave their child while remaining anonymous.
Before Kelsey’s initiative, two to three babies were abandoned and died every year in Indiana. Incredibly, the state has had no abandoned babies die since the boxes were installed. Kelsey explains, “These babies were left in trash cans and dumpsters. One was left at the door of a hospital. That baby had frozen to death before he was found.”
Last Thursday, a healthy baby was safely surrendered in the box, immediately alerting firefighters to the infant’s presence. “We are ecstatic that the system was used. It worked perfectly, exactly how it was designed to work,” said fire Chief Brad Lucas. The chief estimated that the child was only one hour old when it was dropped off.
“They actually could hear what was going on in here and came in within 30 seconds. We rendered care to the infant immediately,” he said. “Today I was just sitting in my office, and just doing what I usually do Thursday afternoon. I get a call from the guys out here who say ‘hey we’ve got a baby.’ and so out of the blue, you don’t expect it, but that’s when it happens. We knew it was gonna happen at some point.”
While in the care of the fire department, the newborn was treated until an ambulance was able to shuttle her to a nearby hospital. Officials have announced that the baby girl will be put into state child services once she is released from the hospital.
Mayor Matt Nicholson, also received a call Thursday afternoon about the baby and is thrilled about the new system. “Earlier today I get a text from both the Police Chief and Fire chief all at the same time. At that moment all I could do was smile. I shed a tear thinking about the fact that somebody did exactly what they needed to do and didn’t leave their baby in a worse situation. It’s a lifetime of difference in my mind. This child has a chance to go out and grow up and be a part of the world with a caring family.”
Lucas and Nicholson both commended the anonymous mother for making the choice to leave the child in the Safe Haven Baby Box rather than abandoning her in unsafe conditions.
“This is why we put this in. So that a mother would have this choice. I’ve been on cloud nine ever since it happened knowing we were able to help this baby and the mother, help the family to take custody of the baby, give it care and see that the right things did happen for that baby,” said Lucas.
Wart was honored at a press conference by Mayor Nicholson, presenting him with a lapel pin as a token of appreciation. After it all, Wart only asked for one thing through the whole thing—name the child “Baby Mia.”
“I’m hopeful that one day she will see the story of how she was safely surrendered in the Safe Haven Baby Box I raised the money for…and search online for me.”
Wart is currently raising money for another Safe Haven Baby Box.