Two NCFL cities working on building baby boxes

Safe Haven Baby Boxes are a nationwide program for parents to surrender their newborn child to officials. There is only one location in Florida.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY, Fla. (WCJB) - A program aimed at preventing babies from being abandoned is growing in North Central Florida.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes are a nationwide program for parents to surrender their newborn child to officials. Right now, the only location in Florida is at the Ocala fire station on NW 16th Avenue.

The baby boxes are possibly coming to fire stations in Chiefland and Newberry after community support.

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said the team has been working on this initiative for about six months.

“This happened very, very rapidly which says to me that this is something the community truly values and the community really wants to happen,” said Marlowe.

Marlowe said he is grateful for the help of a newly appointed Planning and Zoning board member, who donated thousands of dollars to meet the fundraising goal.

“My hat is off to our firemen and women and the residents who have come forth, especially Jordan Fairfield, for making such generous donations to make this happen,” he said.

Some Newberry residents think the baby box is a great idea.

“I would hope it makes a difference,” said Savannah Carswell. “I know a lot of people don’t have a lot of options, so having somewhere safe to be would be great.”

Meanwhile, officials in Chiefland are also collecting money to take part in the program. City commissioner Lewrissa Johns said she is working on written negotiations to bring a box to the Chiefland fire station after accepting 25-thousand dollars from donors.

“I just think it allows an avenue for mothers who don’t have another way to turn and provide for them a meaningful life when the mother at that time has felt that she couldn’t do so,” said Johns.

In January, a newborn was dropped off at the Ocala station. This was the first baby surrendered in the state of Florida.

Officials hope the baby boxes will stop babies from being abandoned in North Central Florida and throughout the state.

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