Indiana Teen Praised After His $10K Baby Drop-Off Box Receives Abandoned Newborn
The high school student, who has since named the baby Mia, raised the money for the box as part of his senior project
A newborn girl was safely surrendered at a fire house in Indiana last week — and it’s all thanks to the dedication of a 19-year-old high school student.
Hunter Wart worked tirelessly over the course of a year to raise the $10,000 needed to install a Safe Haven Baby Box in his community as part of his senior project, CNN reported.
“It was a lot of hard work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears,” his mom Julia Kwasniewski told the outlet, adding that her son mowed lawns and collected scrap metal to raise the funds needed.
His hard work paid off, as the box was finally installed at the Seymour Fire Department in June — and on Thursday, a newborn was left inside for the first time.
“Today I was just sitting in my office, and just doing what I usually do Thursday afternoon,” Fire Chief Brad Lucas told ABC affiliate WHAS. “I get a call from the guys out here who say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a baby.’ And so out of the blue, you don’t expect it, but that’s when it happens. We knew it was gonna happen at some point.”
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Lucas told CNN that firefighters were alerted to the girl’s arrival within a minute of her drop off, and that she was only about an hour old.
“This is why we put this in. So that a mother would have this choice,” Lucas told WHAS. “I’ve been on cloud nine ever since it happened, knowing we were able to help this baby and the mother, help the family to take custody of the baby, give it care and see that the right things did happen for that baby.”
The baby girl — whom Wart later named Mia — was initially cared for by firefighters before she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. She will soon be placed in the custody of state child services workers, according to CNN.
“I’m hopeful that one day she will see the story of how she was safely surrendered in the Safe Haven Baby Box I raised the money for… and search online for me,” Wart told the outlet.
The student was honored for his hard work at a press conference by Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson, who expressed joy that the child was not left to a worse fate, like the newborn who was found in Seymour in a plastic bag in a parking lot in October.
“I shed a tear thinking about the fact that somebody did exactly what they needed to do and didn’t leave their baby in a worse situation,” Nicholson said, according to WHAS. “It’s a lifetime of difference in my mind. This child has a chance to go out and grow up and be a part of the world with a caring family.”
Safe Haven Baby Boxes are meant to prevent the abandonment of newborns by giving desperate mothers a place to safely drop their children without having to be seen.
The nonprofit says it’s had 59 legal Safe Haven surrenders, and that there have been no dead abandoned infants in Indiana since the state’s first box was installed in 2016, according to its website.