Photo by Jamie Plain
Eight-year-old Lillie Dunn has proven that no one is too young to make an impact on their community. What started as a radio ad for a Safe Haven Baby Box sponsored by Right to Life Owensboro, led to Dunn and her two siblings raising more than $5,000 in a short amount of time.
“My husband was driving in the vehicle a couple weeks ago when the 90 second ad came on the radio advertising the Right to Life chili supper fundraiser,” Lillie’s mom, Julie Dunn, explained. “When it mentioned the baby box, Lillie was talking to her dad about it and said she wanted to give money towards it.”
After learning of a baby who was recently surrendered in Bowling Green, Lillie knew she wanted to get involved in raising money for this cause.
While Lillie wanted to go door to door to ask her neighbors for donations, her mom had an idea. Lillie and her siblings loved creating art, so her mom suggested they take their artwork and sell it. After a social media post introduced their idea, the supportive response was almost immediate.
“Our kids were all in!” Julie said. “My husband thought maybe we will get $30 and I thought maybe we will get a couple hundred dollars – we never expected it to get this big.”
Orders started pouring in, some requesting duplicates of already claimed pieces. During the days leading up to the chili fundraiser, Lillie, and her brothers, Elliot (10) and Jesse (5), worked together to fulfill orders. By the night of the supper, their endeavors had raised almost $2,000.
“At this point, the post had only been on Facebook for two days,” Julie explained. “I can remember thinking that if we got to $2,500 that would be an awesome amount, but since then we doubled that.”
In total, over 70 pieces of artwork have been sold, some with as many as a dozen duplicates requested. As far as what Lillie thinks of the success, she is proud to be a part of something that helps save babies’ lives.
“I am most excited about getting to hear that a baby could have their life saved by being put in this baby box,” Lillie said. “I feel surprised that my money raised could help this baby and I am also surprised that I raised this much.”
The Dunn family, who homeschools, describes this fundraising effort as a pivot moment for them to focus on an important community connection.
“Lillie has always had a tender heart. When she hears of a need, she wants to help. A big thing for her and for me as a mom is that our small efforts can make a difference. I am glad my kids are learning this lesson now at 10, 8 and 5. They can make a difference,” Julie said.
While Julie is proud of her three children and their efforts to raise money for a great cause, ultimately she is thankful to draw some attention to the potential impact a Safe Haven Baby Box could have for desperate mothers and babies at risk.
Despite the Safe Haven Law, which allows a baby to be surrendered anonymously and without fear of prosecution at a staffed police station, Dunn heard of a baby in Wisconsin who was recently abandoned in a field and didn’t survive. Stories like this reiterate the importance of raising money to bring the Safe Haven Baby Box to Owensboro.
“Who knows if it could happen in our community? It’s a good option for a hard situation. I don’t want to put my kids in the spotlight as much as I want to put the baby box in the spotlight. This is huge,” Julie said.
Lillie Dunn started with the desire to help a local cause and now she wants to continue to help others in the future. She is already brainstorming ways to keep the momentum going.
“I like to fundraise,” Lillie said. “Next, I want to help raise money for Care Net.”
While some children may feel small and insignificant, Dunn says this experience is teaching her children a lesson about making a difference.
“I never felt that way as a kid, that I could do something significant. My kids can now see needs in the community and things outside themselves,” Julie said. “Their time, effort and talents are being used for something bigger than themselves – that’s priceless. I could not have dreamed up an opportunity for my kids at this age and God set it in our laps.”
To donate to the Safe Haven Baby Box, visit www.rtlo.org.