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Tennessee’s 1st Baby Box is being blessed
Published February 16, 2023; 11:03 a.m.

KNOXVILLE -- Knoxville is now home to the first Safe Haven Baby Box in Tennessee. The blessing of this location will occur at Knoxville Fire Department, Station #17, located at 4804 Western Ave Knoxville, TN 37921 on Friday February 17th at 2 PM EST. The Knoxville location is the 135th in the nation.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes was founded by Monica Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant. Prior to founding Safe Haven Baby Boxes, she served her country spending eight years in the military and served her community as a firefighter/medic. Now her life’s mission is to end infant abandonment with the aid of awareness and education on Safe Haven Laws. Providing anonymous safe surrender locations through Safe Haven Baby Boxes is also key to the mission.

Monica Kelsey explained, “We are thrilled to be adding Tennessee to the list of states leading the nation at protecting infants from abandonment. When we place a Baby Box we are providing a resource for women in crisis that is available for an anonymous surrender whenever that may be needed. We never know when it will be used, but what is key is that we are ready for that situation.”

knoxville baby box
Newborns surrendered under the Safe Haven Law are placed with their forever families within 30-45 days. Babies like Gracie, who was a Safe Haven Baby Box baby, are blessed with a forever family thanks to a birth parent's brave decision to keep their child safe. Image submitted

This project was made possible due to the generosity of Dr. Jim and Mrs. LaVerne Craig (Craig Foundation). Knoxville Fire Chief Stan Sharp said, “The Knoxville Fire Department is honored to be the first organization in the State of Tennessee to install a Safe Haven Baby Box at one of its facilities. We are deeply indebted to Dr. Jim and LaVerne Craig for funding our Safe Haven Baby Box.”

“The Knoxville Fire Department is about saving lives, and this Baby Box is another tool to help them do just that,” said Mayor Indya Kincannon. “Thank you to the men and women at KFD for undergoing the training to properly operate this new resource in our community. If we save the life of one baby, it will be well worth the effort,” says Mayor Indya Kincannon.

The Baby Box is a sophisticated device featuring climate control and a silent alarm system that notifies first responders of a surrendered infant. The infant will be attended to within five minutes, medically evaluated, and adopted within 30 to 45 days.

Twenty four infants have been placed in a Baby Box since 2017. Nationwide, 125 surrenders have resulted from calling the National Safe Haven Baby Box hotline. Safe Haven Baby Boxes are currently available in Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and now Tennessee.


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