The Hutchinson Fire Department and Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System were given over $33,000 in donations for the Hope's Cradle project.
Hope's Cradle is a project to save infants from unsafe abandonment by installing secure and safe baby cradles in fire stations. Hutchinson Fire Department Chief Steven Beer announced at a press conference Thursday that the Children's Emergency Shelter Home donated $25,000 and the Hutchinson Regional Medical Foundation donated $5,000 to the project. Other donations from private donors and businesses have increased the current total to $33,000 out of the $50,000 goal. "We are using no taxpayer dollars to fund this program, it is all donations," said Chief Beer. "The community support so far has been overwhelming and our ultimate goal is to install a Hope's Cradle in every fire station in Hutchinson." Donations can be taken to any Hutchinson Fire Department station and a fund has been set up at the City of Hutchinson. Donations can be made online to the Hutchinson Regional Medical Foundation at https://www.hutchregional.com/foundation/make-a-donation/.
"Our goal is to ensure both the guardian and the child have a future," said Chief Beer about the mission and purpose for the project. "This cradle can give the guardian hope in a desperate situation and prevent the loss of life."
Each cradle costs approximately $22,000 and because the construction costs have been donated by an anonymous person, the cost per cradle has been lowered to approximately $15,000 so that the Hutchinson Fire Department will be able to install two Hope's Cradles. The first one will be installed just outside the front door at Fire Station #1, 2222 N. Main Street and the second one at Fire Station #3, 100 East Avenue E.
Paige Allen, Children's Emergency Shelter board member and social worker, said that the biggest mission at the shelter was to have a safe, loving environment for the children and this is the same; safety for the children and no judgement for the parent. "It's a fresh start for the guardian and for the baby."
Hope's Cradle is a legal, private and secure way a mother or guardian can relinquish their rights of a child anonymously. These cradles are installed with access to the cradle through the outside wall of the fire stations. When a child, no more than 60-days old, is placed within the cradle, and the door shuts, an alarm immediately goes off alerting authorities, including 911, that action needs to take place. The babies are taken care of and are immediately transported to the hospital.
"Just saving one life is the mission of everyone in the line of service and in health care. This project is a win-win and is an absolute service to our community that aligns with bettering the community health and safety in Hutchinson and Reno County," said Nick Baldetti, Chief Operating Officer at Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System.
House Bill 2024 was passed earlier this year permitting the installation of such safety boxes or cradles at both fire and police stations in Kansas.