Let the Children Come to Me: Elwood’s Safe Haven Baby Box

On July 26, 2022, a Safe Haven Baby Box in Elwood was prayed over and blessed, becoming the 86th baby box in Indiana. This life-saving refuge was championed by the congregation of Elwood First UMC.

In Fall 2019, Elwood First UMC’s outreach team
brainstormed installing a local baby box. and there was immediate energy surrounding it.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ mission “is to prevent illegal abandonment of newborns by raising awareness, offering a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis and offering the Safe Haven Baby Boxes a last resort option for women who want to maintain complete anonymity.” The vision for the organization was born from the founder’s experience as an abandoned infant, as well as seeing a baby box at a church in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Safe Haven Law in Indiana allows mothers to surrender their unharmed babies without the threat of arrest or prosecution within 30 days of birth. The baby box allows an anonymous way for a parent to do this, while also ensuring the baby is shielded from weather and receives immediate care. Once surrendered, an infant is examined and given medical treatment, if necessary, before being released into the care of the Indiana Department of Child Services to be placed with a caregiver.

Elwood First’s outreach team was gathering information and making plans, recalls outreach chair Alice Denton, though they were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They learned that it would cost $15,000 to have a Safe Haven Baby Box installed. When an anonymous donor approached the team with a gift of the full amount needed, they knew God was afoot.

“The church had already intended to do the project, but the donation was a confirmation that God was leading this,” shared Rev. Roberta Cook, pastor at Elwood UMC.


The outreach team contacted the city with their proposal-and funds in hand- in early 2022. City officials met them with an enthusiastic response.

The money funded the production and installation of the baby box at the fire department, which included construction, electrical work, installation, and testing.

Though the process took longer than anticipated due to construction and labor delays, it was completed and passed inspection in the summer of 2022.

This is the first Madison County Safe Haven Baby Box.
It meets a felt need in an area where recent memory includes the deaths of young children at the hands of their parents.

“If this box had been here,” Alice recalled, “Maybe those deaths wouldn’t have happened.”

At the community blessing, Pastor Roberta, Alice, and other members of the outreach team were present for the prayer and celebration, alongside city officials. Pastor Roberta prayed “a blessing of hope and promise.”

Though Elwood First may be a small church, they are doing great things for God, remarked Alice.

Pastor Roberta agreed and noted that the Safe Haven Baby Box fits with their vision to build relationships through prayer and service. “In The United Methodist Church, children matter most. For us, this fit within our mission. This is one way that we can say- and make-a child matter most.”