PORTALES, N.M. — On September 12, the Portales City Council agreed unanimously on finalizing the contract on a “baby box” at the Portales Fire Station.

Hobbs back in May welcomed its first baby box and on March 15, Portales followed closely behind by approving an ordinance for a Safe Haven Baby Box. The next step was to get legalities cleared and determine how raise funds for the box, including cost of supplies and finding an electrician and contractor.

Angie Smith with Roosevelt/Curry Right to Life Committee said that the community was able to raise just over $16,000 – the box costs $11,000 to build. Local contractor Bryce Harrison of Harrison Family Builders and local electrician Cody Hughes donated their time and supplies to the handcrafted box.

The remaining money would go to a campaign involving a billboard with Safe Haven’s 1-800 number operated 24/7 year long by professional counselors.

The baby box is a safe incubation device that stays at 74 degrees year-round, Smith said. It will have a heater for cold weather and an A/C for hot weather. A camera will automatically notify first responders and adoption authorities should a baby be surrendered in the box. Parents have until a child is 90 days old to surrender to a baby box.

“If they need that extra anonymity because it’s just too hard to face someone when you’re doing that… no one will ever know who it was and the sweet little baby can still go on to their forever adopted family,” Smith said.

According to Smith, the average response time is usually two minutes.

Smith stressed the importance of extending love and compassion to a child that needs a home and a mom that needs help to get out of a horrible situation. She said surrending a baby to the baby box would be no different than if a mother or father were to surrender their child in person to emergency personnel.

“We’ve already seen that happen to a young lady in Hobbs, and we’ve just in this last year seen a 16-year-old out of Artesia make a horrible horrible decision that’s now going haunt her the rest of her and her family’s life,” said Smith. “And the sad thing about that is had she just handed the baby over to somebody in the hospital, none of this would have happened.”

Monica Kelsey, the founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Box said the team at Safe Haven Baby Box would train first responders with the necessary tools once the box is enforced.

The Portales City Council all voted ‘yes’ to finalize the contract and further the Safe Haven Baby Box project.