OCALA, Fla. - An Ocala newborn was the 23rd baby to be surrendered inside a Baby Box since 2017, also marking the first surrendered baby in 2023.
The baby was reportedly dropped off at Ocala Fire Rescue’s Station #1, located at the MLK First Responder Campus.
The Ocala Baby Box location was the 66th Baby Box in the nation and now there are 134 locations across the U.S.
The Ocala Fire Rescue Station #1 will hold a press conference on Thursday to discuss the details of the surrender.
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 then served her community as a firefighter/medic.
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Kelsey explained, "We are so proud of this selfless parent who has lovingly surrendered their infant via a Baby Box over the holiday! We are so happy this community was prepared for this situation. We know this baby will be so loved by an adoptive family and we are so thrilled to be a part of protecting infants from abandonment."
Ocala Fire Rescue Chief, Clint Welborn explains about the surrender, "After experiencing our first surrendered child it’s clear that this resource saves lives. Knowing that Ocala’s Safe Haven Baby Box just saved a life is our greatest reward."
The Baby Box allows for the safe and anonymous surrender of infants when the mother is in crisis or unable to parent. The Baby Box has heating and cooling elements to provide comfort for the infant along with silent alarms to notify the first responders.
The infant will be attended to within five minutes, medically evaluated at a local hospital, and adopted within 30 to 45 days.
Baby Boxes are currently available in Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.