St. Luke sewing and quilting
group makes blankets
for Safe Haven baby box

Members of St. Luke Church’s sewing and quilting group, from left, Susan Portman, Ann Greer, Tina Sohl and Mary Leitner, showed off a baby blanket they sewed. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

The women from St. Luke Church’s sewing and quilting group can only hope Baby Moses had a blanket when he was placed in a basket and set afloat on the Nile.

They’ll make sure infants placed in an Okolona Safe Haven Baby Box will have one — made with their love.

“What we’ve been doing is worth the while, but this, to me, is coming from the heart,” said Ann Greer, a great-grandmother who sews blankets at St. Luke.

Last month, the women who usually sew prayer blankets started making blankets for a Safe Haven Baby Box located at the Okolona Fire Protection District station on Preston Highway. The box, installed in July, provides mothers a secure place to surrender an infant.

As the women cut brightly colored cloth at a recent meeting, they talked about what a difficult decision it may be to surrender a child.

“You can’t imagine being in that woman’s position at the time,” said Mary Leitner, as she stitched a blanket. “You don’t know what they’re going through. Everybody has a story.”

Susan Portman, also a member of the sewing group, said she finds the installation of the baby box “bittersweet.”

Tina Sohl smiled as she sewed a blanket July 30 at St. Luke Church. The parish’s sewing and quilting group sews blankets to be used in a Safe Haven Baby Box located at the Okolona Fire Protection District station on Preston Highway. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

“I respect the women because they know it’s for the betterment of the child. It’s sad, but you know someone’s going to take care of that baby,” said Portman.

Tina Sohl, who also sews blankets at St. Luke, said hearing about the baby box hits “close to home.” “I was an unwed mother and it was pretty tough,” Sohl said as she sewed a bright blue blanket. “By the grace of God, my parents were there for me. God always brings great good out of decisions you make that you’re not mature enough for. He sees the big picture.”

A new Kentucky law enacted this spring makes it possible for an individual to safely and anonymously leave a newborn within the first 30 days of life at a participating hospital or fire station. The legislation paved the way for Kentucky’s first baby box, said Okolona Fire Chief Mark Little.

The boxes are distributed by Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc., an Indiana-based non-profit created by Monica Kelsey, a woman who was abandoned as a baby, Little noted.

Since the box was installed on July 1, a baby has not been surrendered, he said.

“It’s very exciting to have, but at the same time we don’t want it to be used,” said Little.

Susan Portman, left, and Ann Greer, members of St. Luke Church’s sewing and quilting group, measured fabric for a baby blanket July 30. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

If a baby is placed in the box, first responders are ready to take action, he noted. A minute after the baby is placed in the box, an alarm system notifies the fire chief as well as Louisville Metro Safe, which dispatches officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department and Emergency Medical Services.

EMS workers will take the baby to a local hospital, where Child Protective Services will be notified, said Little.

The baby box also contains something for the mother. When she opens the box to leave her baby, she will find a bag containing information about postpartum care.

The women at St. Luke have made 10 blankets so far and said they plan to keep sewing blankets for the baby box. They think of the blankets as a “keepsake” for the baby. One day the child will grow up and may discover their history, they noted. The blanket “will let them know somebody cared,” said Portman.

To learn more about Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc., visit

Ruby Thomas
Written By
Ruby Thomas
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group makes blankets
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