Bartholomew County teen makes safe haven for newborn babies

(WTHR photo Rich VanWyk)

SEYMOUR, Ind. (WTHR) — A Bartholomew county teenager turned trash in to cash — enough cash to perhaps save the life of a newborn baby.

Seymour is the ninth city to have Safe Haven Baby Box. It arrived with a story of a young man's hope, hard work persistence.

Dozens of firefighters, Seymour officials and supporters gathered around the box just installed in a brick wall of fire station and prayed. "We gather here to ask your blessing on an instrument made by human hands for the protection of life," paid for by college freshman Hunter Wart. "I hope that new mothers instead of abandoning their babies bring them to this box."

As a Columbus High School student, Hunter was so moved by the story an abandoned baby he convinced his mom to help collect truck loads of scrap metal. It took them more than a year and a lot of trips to the scrap yard to raise $10,000.

"Mom's tired," Julie Kwasniewski said. "Mom's proud."

Hunter intended to pay for a baby box that would be installed in a Columbus fire station, but the fire department and city politely said no.

Hunter didn't give up and Seymour's fire department and city council jumped at the opportunity.

"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.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes allow parents to anonymously and safely give up their infants. The boxes are built into exterior walls of fire stations. A parent can open the door, place the baby inside and drive away. An alarm alerts firefighters who can retrieve the baby from inside the building.

Since they were first installed in 2016, CEO and founder Monica Kelsey said four babies have been delivered to fire stations with boxes. "I wish every kid in high school was like Hunter," she said with a smile.

Hunter looked at the crows and smiled. "I guess I'm supposed to give a speech," he said. Everyone laughed.

Hunter let his actions do most of the talking.

His short speech ended with another donation, a down payment on yet another save haven for an infant needing a home.

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