Less than one year after a teenager earned $10,000 to install a Safe Haven Baby Box, a baby girl was dropped off in the container at a fire station in southern Indiana.
Hunter Wart, 19, took one year to raise the money mowing lawns and scrapping metal as a senior project at Columbus North High School, which is 45 miles south of Indianapolis.
The box was installed at the Seymour Fire Station after the city of Columbus turned down the offer.
“I hope no babies get surrendered but at the end of the day if we save one life it is worth it,” Mayor Craig Leudeman said at the dedication of the box on June 14.
On Thursday afternoon, a baby girl was dropped off. Firefighters received the alert from the box and transported her to the hospital. The girl, who has been named Mia, will then be turned over to Child Protective Services for adoption. It wasn’t revealed whether the baby was a newborn.
“We took custody of the baby immediately,” Seymour Fire Chief Brad Lucas told WAVE-TV. “I’m happy the guys were here. They knew what to do. They performed as they should perform, and the system just worked perfectly.”
On Friday, Wart was honored.
“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,” Seymour Mayor Matt said at the news conference. “I’m glad the city of Seymour and the council chose to get the box when they did.”
Wart’s mom, Julia Kwasniewski, told CNN the project “was a lot of hard work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears.”
Two years ago as a junior, Wart came up with the idea when he heard about the boxes on the radio.
“I’m just excited that I did it, because if it wasn’t here, we don’t know what would’ve happened to the child,” Wart said.
“That’d actually be really cool if I get to meet her. Just seeing how she grew up and knowing that she has a family that can take care of her.”
Safe Haven Baby Boxes has installed 24 of them in Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana and Ohio.
Monica Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant herself, founded the organization, whose motto is: “Saving babies one box at a time!” She lives in Woodburn, Ind., near Fort Wayne.
“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,” Kelsey told CNN. “But this little girl [in Seymour] is going to grow up knowing how much her birth mom loved her just like I did.”
Safe Haven Baby Boxes runs a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis.
Prents who surrender their babies have 30 days to come back if they change their minds.
“This little girl yesterday was healthy, and she’s beautiful, and she’s going to make a set of parents in the state of Indiana very happy,” Kelsey said.