The 10 members of the Magnusen family began volunteering as a family more than 13 years ago. They fostered 31 babies, most of which were drug-exposed, and traveled across the country educating the public on the dangers of drugs while pregnant and providing hands-on training about ways to help a baby through drug withdrawals. The family knows this hardship, as the five younger Magnusens, who were all adopted, were all drug-exposed.
Today, the Magnusen family directs their efforts toward keeping babies from being abandoned in dumpsters or alleys. The Magnusens established "Project Cuddle" in 1990 to provide soft toys to police agencies involved in crisis calls dealing with children. In 1996, they expanded the project to include a support program for young mothers in crisis, who are considering abandoning their child as an option. They run a 24-hour, toll-free hotline from their living room and have already saved 74 babies since it began in July 1996. The program provides the mother with resources for help or adoption services. Mothers and babies have been helped in places throughout the nation and the Virgin Islands.
More than 40 volunteers help on the phone lines and more than 200 families in California are ready and willing to rescue a baby and provide support for young mothers, anywhere in the nation, when the need arises. The amount of people willing to be volunteers in their own communities is rapidly growing, meaning more exposure for the program and more help for young mothers. There are more than 1,500 volunteers nationwide. Debbe, alone, spends 70 hours a week working on the hotline and receives no pay.
The hotline, the only one of its kind, and Project Cuddle are funded through private donations. Public Service Announcements have also been donated. There has recently been a large effort to attract more corporate donations.