Huntington Fire Department Unveils Safe Haven Baby Box

Posted Thursday, May 13, 2021

20210513 Safe Haven Baby Box

Monica Kelsey, who founded Safe Haven Baby Box Inc. in 2015, speaks at a ceremony unveiling Huntington's new Baby Box on Thursday afternoon.

HUNTINGTON – A Safe Haven Baby Box located at the Huntington Fire Department’s Etna Avenue station was unveiled to the community during a ceremony Thursday afternoon. It is situated on the building’s northwest corner facing Etna Avenue, and it is the 58th to open in Indiana.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc. is a non-profit founded in early 2015 by firefighter and medic Monica Kelsey, who herself was abandoned as an infant. A Safe Haven Baby Box allows a mother to safely and anonymously surrender her infant up to 30 days old under Indiana’s Safe Haven Law. The Baby Box is equipped with many security features, such as heating and cooling components, a sophisticated alarm system and a soft white light.

"Working one on one with the Huntington Fire Department has opened my eyes to how hard these men and women work every day for the residents of Huntington. They pride themselves with having every tool available in their tool box for every situation that may arise and adding the Baby Box just makes sense,” Kelsey said. “It has been an absolute honor to walk alongside the Huntington Fire Department as they take this proactive approach to infant abandonment.”

Kelsey began the event Thursday by speaking about her own history as an abandoned child and how that drives her work to protect infants now. Huntington Fire Chief Tony Johnson and Mayor Richard Strick also spoke at the event, with blessings delivered by Father Tony Steinacker of Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church and Pastor Josh Kessler from The Well.

Funding for Safe Haven Baby Boxes does not come from tax dollars and is 100 percent fundraiser and donor driven. All funding for Huntington’s effort was received through the Huntington County Community Foundation, with donations coming from local industries, the church community and residents of Huntington and surrounding communities.

“When we first started talking about putting in the Baby Box, I couldn’t have imagined the support we would receive from the community,” Chief Johnson said.

Eleven infants have been placed in Baby Boxes to date, according to Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc. Babies surrendered in Indiana under the Safe Haven Law are taken into custody by the Department of Child Services and often placed with an adoptive family within a few months.

The Safe Haven Baby Box organization also staffs a 24-hour hotline at 1-866-99BABY1 to allow parents in crisis to talk with a trained professional.

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