Project Cuddle was started by Debbe Magnusen, 50. She adopted five children in addition to her two biological offspring. The organization operates on a budget of about $250,000. In recent weeks, Project Cuddle has been sending brochures and an educational DVD to about 3,400 schools in the state. In 10 years, Magnusen has assembled a national network of about 2,000 volunteers who respond to the 24-hour Project Cuddle hotline, (888) TO-CUDDLE, to rescue an unwanted child. Magnusen said the average age of a mother who gives up her baby is 22. Many are fearful of social services or come from abusive or foster homes themselves, she said. Some have been raped. Magnusen describes their condition as “pregnexia” – similar to anorexia – where they’re paralyzed with fear and cannot accept their pregnancy. For more information about Project Cuddle, go to www.projectcuddle.org. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4461160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PASADENA – It was a Halloween night when Bill and Pat May were called to rescue an unwanted baby. The infant girl, Tsi Tsi, was from Alhambra, born out of an affair between two people married to others. Her mother risked losing her marriage if she kept the child. Could they drop the baby off at the Mays’ Pasadena home? Bill borrowed a baby carseat from a neighbor and soon a man in a Mercedes sports car – the infant’s father – arrived with a baby basket. He left the child and never returned. That was more than six years ago. The girl was quickly adopted by a loving family. She is one of 545 children across the country saved by Project Cuddle, a nonprofit organization that Bill May serves as a board member. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventIn California, mothers unable to keep their babies can surrender them without facing prosecution to police or fire stations, or to hospitals. Between 2001, when the Safe Haven law went into effect, and January of this year, there are still more newborns abandoned than surrendered. According to the California Department of Social Services, 122 newborns have been surrendered under the law, but 130 have been found alive after being illegally abandoned. The department does not keep track of abandoned babies found dead because the circumstances surrounding their deaths are unknown, officials said. On March 12, a baby girl was abandoned and left to die in Alhambra. The death of Therese Rose – who was “adopted,” named and buried by members of St. Therese Catholic Church – shocked the community. Project Cuddle, based in Costa Mesa and Pasadena, exists to provide mothers with an alternative solution. According to officials from the organization, infants continue being abandoned because of a lack of education and the fact that mothers are afraid to encounter institutions at their time of greatest vulnerability. Mothers with unwanted pregnancies are often living with a secret, hiding their baby from everyone, May said. “The last thing she wants to do is walk into a fire station and abandon a baby to her hero – the fireman,” he said.