Video: 'Project Cuddle' prevents abandoned babies

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/2/2007 8:01:21 PM ET 2007-03-03T01:01:21

The album is filled with photos of her kids — all 564.

"I love them all," says Debbe Magnusen. "They'll always be a part of my life."

"This one was born on New Year's Day, 30 seconds after the new year," she says as she flips through the album, "and this one came in from Missouri."

They're not blood relatives, but make no mistake, these are Debbe Magnusen's babies — the ones she's helped save.

"What drives me is the thought that another baby could end up in a dumpster or lay in a back alley and lie there for days before dying with nobody," says Magnusen.

Despite safe surrender laws, hundreds of newborns are abandoned every year across the country. After one was found in a dumpster near her home, Magnusen started Project Cuddle with little more than a phone and a dream.

Ten years later, it's a nationwide crisis hot line with 1,400 volunteers and one goal: To save babies at risk of being abandoned.

"Debbe's wonderful," says Priscilla Alvarez, who has benefited from Project Cuddle. "She's  very loving and she'll go out of her way to do anything for anybody, and she'll go all over the world just to save a baby."

Magnusen offered Alvarez clothes, care and what the homeless, frightened teen needed most, a friend, as she gave birth and gave up her daughter for adoption.

"I know that she's safe," says Alvarez.

Safe in homes like Leigh-Anne and Gary Ayers'; they adopted a Project Cuddle baby.

"Everybody says, 'That's such a great thing that you did this for this baby!' and I think, 'No, it's such a great thing that this woman did for me,'" says Leigh-Anne.

Despite two kids of her own, five more she adopted, 30 she's been a foster mom to and the hundreds she's helped rescue, Magnusen feels she still could do more.

"What keeps me going is the thought of who I can save and the reminder of who I couldn't," she says.

She's a mom who, despite an overflowing scrapbook, insists there's plenty of room for more.

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