An Indiana teenager who raised funds to get a baby drop-off box installed at his local fire department is being praised after a healthy newborn was left safely in that box.
Hunter Wart, 19, raised $10,000 to purchase the Safe Haven Baby Box as part of a school project during his senior year at Columbus North High School.
“It was a lot of hard work,” his mom Julia Kwasniewski told CNN. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears.”
In June 2019, the box was installed at the Seymour fire department. This past Thursday, firefighters found a baby girl inside. An alarm in the box alerted them as soon as the baby was placed inside, said fire Chief Brad Lucas.
“We are ecstatic that the system was used,” Lucas told CNN. “It worked perfect, exactly how it was designed to work.”
The Safe Haven Baby Box at the Seymour Fire Department is one of 24 installed across several states. The founder of the nonprofit, Monica Kelsey, says she began Safe Haven Baby Boxes to help distressed mothers who cannot care for their babies. These mothers are able to safely drop off their newborns and remain anonymous.
Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant herself, said that before she launched the initiative, two to three abandoned babies died every year in Indiana. Since the initiative was launched in 2016, no abandoned babies have died.
“But this little girl [in Seymour] is going to grow up knowing how much her birth mom loved her just like I did,” said Kelsey.
Wart was honored at a press conference on Friday by the Mayor of Seymour, Matt Nicholson.
“Here we are 224 days later and we’ve had our first baby saved by the box, and I think that’s an awesome feat,” Nicholson said. “I’m glad the city of Seymour and the council chose to get the box when they did.”