Teen Raises $10K To Install "Baby Box" in His Community
Find out how his hard work has already saved a life.
Hunter Wart worked non-stop for over a year mowing lawns and collecting scrap metal. The high school senior wasn't saving up to buy a new car or video games. He wanted to purchase a Safe Haven Baby Box to be installed in his town.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes are a resource for mothers in crisis, who may not want to keep their baby once it's born, but don't want to simply abandon it.
The "Safe Haven Law" allows a parent to leave a baby in the care of a hospital, police or fire station without being criminally liable as long as the baby is no older than 28 days and isn't harmed.
Safe Haven was founded by Monica Kelsey, who was herself abandoned as an infant. The boxes are monitored electronically, and once a baby has been placed inside the box an alarm will sound to alert medical staff or rescue services. The babies are typically recovered from the boxes in less than 3 minutes.
Wart was actually a junior at Columbus North High School in Seymour, IN when he decided to raise the money for a box as part of his senior project.
We're not talking chump change, either. Hunter needed to come up with $10,000 to purchase the box and get it installed at the local fire department.
"It was a lot of hard work," his mom Julia Kwasniewski told CNN. "A lot of blood, sweat and tears."
Julia Kwasniewski and Hunter Wart.
The boxes allow the parents to remain anonymous and ensure the infant will be taken care of. Safe Haven Baby Boxes also provides staff for a 24-hour hotline for mothers who need advice from someone who is a trained professional.
Thanks to Hunter's hard work, a box was installed at the Seymour Fire Department in June 2019. Last Thursday, the first infant was found inside – a healthy baby girl. She was estimated to be an hour old when firefighters plucked her from the box and gave her medical care until an ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital.
"We are ecstatic that the system was used," Fire Chief Brad Lucas said. "It worked perfect, exactly how it was designed to work."
According to Kelsey, the infant was placed in the custody of Indiana Child Protective Services, which will find a set of adoptive parents for her within the next 45 days.
"One of the most selfless things a mother can do is give up her child when she knows she wants what's best for this baby but knows it isn't her," Kelsey told the Indiana Tribune. "We make every resource available to any of those moms that come to us."
Here's a short message from Safe Haven Baby Box founder Monica Kelsey on the baby that was found in the box purchased by Hunter.
The mayor of Seymour honored Hunter at a press conference last Friday and gave him a lapel pin as a token of appreciation.
Hunter also got the honors of naming the baby girl since he is responsible for installing the box. He chose the name Mia. He's hopeful their paths will cross again one day.
"That'd actually be really cool if I get to meet her," Hunter said. "Just seeing how she grew up and knowing that she has a family that can take care of her."
Hunter said he's already working on raising money for another box for the city.