Fundraising efforts by the local Knights of Columbus to finance the installation of a Safe Haven Baby Box are going well, according to member Lloyd Cambre.
“So far we have raised over $3,000 toward our goal of $10,000,” Cambre said.
SHBB founder Monica Kelsey spoke at a fundraising dinner on Tuesday night held in McGinnis Hall at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. Other fundraising efforts have included a BINGO night and a spaghetti supper. Funds have also been received through donations.
Kelsey also brought a model of the baby box to the fundraiser to give supporters a closer look at the box. The outside of the boxes are clearly marked with instructions including a crisis hotline number.
The Benton City Council voted to install a baby box at Central Fire Station during their regularly scheduled July meeting. The Baby Box is a safety device that goes hand-in-hand with the Arkansas Safe Haven Law, which legally permits a mother in crisis to surrender her unwanted newborn 30 days old or younger to an employee at any hospital emergency room or law enforcement agency anonymously without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child.
Boxes can only be installed at a site that is staffed 24 hours per day and seven days per week. Emergency personnel is required to respond every time an alarm is activated at the box to verify whether a newborn has been placed in the box.
According to Kelsey, the average time a baby spends in the box is two and half minutes.
With the addition of Arkansas, there are now five states with Safe Haven Baby Boxes. The program was piloted in Indiana in 2016 after several instances of babies dying after being abandoned.
“In just this year, 2019, we’ve had six babies come through our program in a state that used to have two or three dead babies,” Kelsey told the council. “Now we are having babies that are saved … hopefully we can make sure that no babies die in your state in trash cans, dumpsters or along side the woods ever again.”
According to Cambre, the current plans are to have the box in place by September.
Cambre said that donations are still being accepted. Funds can be sent to Safe Haven Baby Box P.O. Box 185 Woodburn, IN, 46797. Donations should indicate that the funds should be directed to the Benton, AR, Baby Box.