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Safe Haven Baby Boxes Coming to Wheeling

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The Safe Haven law allows parents to legally surrender their babies at certain locations, such as fire stations, hospitals, police stations, and designated baby boxes. Wheeling resident and Meraki Hair Salon owner, Ciarra Beaver, is raising the money for Safe Haven boxes to be placed in Wheeling at two locations, the new Fire Department Headquarters on 167 18th Street and the Wheeling Island Fire Station on 11 North Wabash Street.

Beaver is not on this mission alone, she is working alongside several other women, including Cassandra Elliot, Maggie Turak, Olivia Becca, and her mother, Lisa Kobasko. “I came up with the idea and then ran it by them and thought four is better than one, let’s knock this out of the park, and they really just got on board,” said Beaver.

“Ciarra asked me if I wanted to be part of this whole process and without any hesitation I said absolutely…I’m a mom to three little ones and helping other moms and babies hits close to home,” said Turak, a stylist at Meraki Hair Salon and owner of Inches, a hair extension supply company.

A Safe Haven baby box is a box built into the side of a designated Safe Haven building where parents can anonymously give their babies up for adoption, free of charge. Beaver explained the process, “anyone can drop off a baby [up to] 30 days old, and they would open the door, place the baby inside…and then she will close the door, and once the door is closed it can not be reopened, and it will set off silent alarms…it will say the Safe Haven baby box door was opened, so then whoever is on call and in that fire station will go pick up that baby and drive it by ambulance to the local hospital.”

Safe Haven allows infants to be adopted by loving families who have the resources and ability to take care of them, “we hope that we can help the community in any way possible by giving these babies a chance. They deserve a chance, they didn’t ask to be brought into that situation,” said Beaver. Adoptions happen quickly depending on the legal system, “usually they do have a family that is already set up to take these cases.”

Not only do the baby boxes help children, but they help mothers as well. “You know sometimes you’re not ready to be a mom, so I hope the mom can calmly move forward knowing her baby is in a safe space,” said Beaver.

“Everyone benefits…The baby’s life is out of danger, the mother has a way out of sometimes, a bad situation, and there’s a family out there that gets to go through an adoption,” said Turak.

There are also resources for mothers provided at the site of the baby box. “As they’re placing the baby, a bag of information will fall out for the mother, and that includes the hotline for Safe Haven, it will include paperwork if the mother chooses to fill out the history of the baby, and she can send that in anonymously,” said Beaver. “Then throughout the city, the YWCA [Young Women’s Christian Associates] and all the local organizations will provide pamphlets as well.”

Each box costs approximately 16,000 dollars, and WVU Medicine pledged to pay 8,000 dollars per box. She is hoping to raise closer to 20,000 dollars to cover extra yearly fees and expenses.

Beaver discussed all the moving parts to building a Safe Haven baby box, including collaboration with the Fire Chief, the mayor, and hiring a licensed contractor and security team to do the prep work for the boxes. She and her team began planning and meeting with professionals this past summer, and have been fundraising since September.

“We are fundraising any way you can think! Local businesses have helped us out a ton. We have donation boxes at a lot of local businesses in Wheeling. We also did a Dine to Donate, raffles, and Cards for a Cause. Wheeling Hospital has also backed us a lot by donating half of what we need. We are still actively raising funds so no amount is too small,” said Turak.

Beaver also shared how supportive the community was. “The community support has been phenomenal, the news came and did a story…social media has gotten the news out …Everyone has donated, I have had several clients that own businesses donate 100 dollars, 200 dollars, and that all adds up which is making this progress further,” said Beaver.

Turak agreed that the Wheeling community has been very supportive of their mission and dedication. “Raising the 20,000 dollars is not a small feat but us four moms are taking on that challenge with lots of energy. It was honestly really great to see so many people wanting to help with this project,” said Turak.

Beaver has a personal connection to the adoption process, which is what originally sparked her interest in Safe Haven boxes. “The main reason why I started this is my mom was adopted. My grandparents couldn’t have kids so they fostered 17 kids throughout their younger years. So my mom and her brother, not biological, were lucky enough to be adopted by my grandparents, and then my parents also adopted four relatives,” said Beaver.

Turak added that no matter how much use the Safe Haven boxes get, every life saved is valuable. “If just one baby’s life is saved using this box then that’s phenomenal,” said Turak.

“We just hope that everyone involved can have a chance at the best life possible,” said Beaver. “Not a lot of people talk about these situations, so if we could just get the awareness out that would be the best thing possible.”

You can donate at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/safehavenbabyboxforwheelingwestvirginia/. 

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Lucy Aderholt, Editor-in-Chief
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