LHC Baby Box project becomes a reality
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
The 57th nationwide Safe Haven Baby Box was unveiled Monday morning at the Harrison Township Fire Dept. Station 1, located at 120 Hilltop Drive in Corydon. The idea of this installation was driven by the Leadership Harrison County class of 2020, whose members performed the community work and fundraising necessary to host this permanent fixture at the fire department.
Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony about how she was abandoned as an infant, which was what inspired her to create the non-profit organization with hopes she would be able to help end illegal infant abandonment in the country.
The box allows a mother to surrender her newborn infant in less than 30 days with complete anonymity. The box itself has heating and cooling components to help regulate the baby’s body temperature, as well as a sophisticated alarm system. The infant is placed inside this box for less than four minutes when a silent alarm begins to alert first responders that the box has been opened.
Ten infants have been placed in a baby box in the last three years. Nationwide, 96 surrenders have resulted from calling the Safe Haven Baby Boxes hotline (1-866-99BABY1). Six of the 10 baby box surrenders took place in 2020 alone. Baby boxes are currently available in Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas and Florida.
Harrison Township Fire Chief Jon Saulman said he was proud that the department has this offering at its station now and that his team has been researching and learning about it for some time so they are ready to follow the guidelines pertaining to it if it ever is used.
“We have spent the last six to eight months learning the laws regarding the use of this box and training our team on it,” Saulman said. “This is a great thing for our community, and we are honored and privileged to have it here.”
Tim Johnson, pastor at Pfrimmer’s Chapel United Methodist Church east of Corydon, asked in a prayer at the ribbon cutting to “bless the box for any and all who may have to use it.”
Then, the 2020 Leadership Harrison County class gathered around the box as Saulman cut the ribbon, marking the beginning of this new feature at the fire station.
Jamie Smith, a 2020 LHC class member, thanked the donors who contributed to the baby box funds. She presented a plaque with all the donors’ names, which will be hung above the baby box inside the firehouse.
“We couldn’t be more proud as a class of bringing this box to our community a reality,” Smith said. “Our hope is that the box can bring hope to others just like it has done for our class.”