I got to thinking about “Haunts with Heart” last month. First, I wrote about Scare for a Cure, a haunted house in Austin, Texas that “raises money for local cancer charities one scream at a time.” Then Best Haunted Attraction left a comment on my post about haunted house season being open. The comment referenced Hundred Acres Manor in Pittsburgh and how it’s a charity haunted house too. (100% of their profits goes to benefit Animal Friends and the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.)
That’s all it took to spark an idea about listing other haunts with heart. Some I came across in articles, but most came from a call I put out on HARO. (Side note: I was completely blown away by the response I got from that. Humbling! If any of you who contacted me read this, thank you so much again for sharing your knowledge!)
Not all of the events listed below are haunted houses for charity, but they are all Halloween-themed charity events of some kind. I broke them down by the causes they benefit. In cases where organizations had photos to share, I included those as well.
Pet Halloween Event (Denver, Colorado) – The House Restaurant will be a howling place to be for pets and their owners on October 25 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Dressing up is encouraged, food and drinks will be served, and pet communicator Megan Riley will be on hand. (Niki Lopez of Focus Marketing & PR shared this one.)
Whiskerville’s Haunted House (Texas City, Texas) – presented by Candace Graves of En Vogue Events. Whiskerville is a no-kill animal shelter and money raised at the haunted house will benefit this animal sanctuary. October 22 and 23, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Bradley Farms Haunted House (Herndon, Virginia) – Partial ALL* proceeds from the October 23-24 event will benefit Herndon Reston FISH, a local charity that helps people experiencing short-term financial need. (Suzanne Fulton graciously bestowed this info on me.) *Corrected 10/16. Suzanne informed me that last year it was partial, but this year ALL proceeds go to FISH. Fantastic! (Thanks again, Suzanne!)
The Candlelighters Ghost House (Fremont, California) – This non-profit organization of 130 women uses its annual haunted house as its biggest fundraiser to benefit non-profit groups and community-based projects in the Tri-City Community (Fremont, Newark & Union City). (Tip provided by Carol Pedersen.)
Goodsprings Haunted House (Anderson, Alabama) – presented by Scare for Charity. Proceeds benefit organizations such as Moms on a Mission, Hospice of Limestone County, West Limestone Volunteer Fire Department, Goodsprings Volunteer Fire Department, and several local families.
Stony Point Ambulance Corps Annual Halloween Haunted House (Stony Point, New York) – This volunteer ambulance corps holds this event for free as a way to give back to the community. They accept donations, which I assume benefits the ambulance corps itself. It does good work year-round by offering free pre-hospital emergency care to Stony Point residents. (Thanks goes to Chelle Cordero for the FYI about this one.)
Riverside Drive 2009 Fall Festival Event (Sherman Oaks, California) – In addition to a haunted house, there will be food, games, karaoke, and a costume contest. Money raised will support Riverside Drive Elementary School to help them keep programs like art, drama, computers, and PE which were lost due to California’s budget cuts. October 30 from 2:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and October 31 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Thanks to Gretchen Hydo for this tip.)
Soka University’s 8th Annual Haunted House (Aliso Viejo, California) – Students put this one on. Proceeds benefit student clubs at Soka University and South County Community Outreach. October 30 and 31. (Thanks to Wendy Harder, Soka’s Director of Communty Relations, for the info.)
SHELTERS & FOOD BANKS
Amazing Haunted Maize Maze and The 3rd Dimension (Princeton, Iowa) – Collecting canned food for the Student Hunger Drive. (Tip courtesy of Jessica Waytenick, Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.)
Haunted Hallway (Davenport, Iowa) – On October 30 at the Fejervary Health Care Center they’ll have a haunted house from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. They simply request a donation of can goods that they’ll donate to the local shelters. (The FYI on this one was also from Jessica Waytenick, Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.)
Old Navy’s Urban Pumpkin Patch Party (Meatpacking District, NYC) – It’s all about the pumpkins at this one! Pick them, decorate them, and in general enjoy them. The $2 admission fee will be donated to the Food Bank for New York City. (Thanks to Laurie Hugill for this tip and pic.)
WOMEN & CHILDREN
Boston Medical Center’s Halloween Town (Boston, Massachusetts) – This enormous two day Halloween party (October 24-25) has it all: costumes, music, haunted houses, a variety of activities. Money raised benefits the BMC’s Kids Fund. Also, businesses can buy tickets and become a sponsor who donates the tickets to children who otherwise wouldn’t get to trick or treat. Very neat concept. (Tip shared by Carol Corbett, VP of Marketing & Publicity of PublishingWorks, who will have authors there, bag piping and will provide books for the kids. And, eys, this is the same PublishingWorks who agreed to donate books to the fiberdoodles-inspired Halloween blog Party Giveaway!)
Knott’s Scary Farm’s First Annual Scare-A-Thon (Buena Park, California) – Susan Storey, Director of Communications for Give Kids the World, alerted me to this unique event. Knott’s Berry Farm is doing a Scare-a-Thon to benefit Give Kids the World. Anyone who raises $70 in donations gets admission to Knott’s Halloween Haunts (“the biggest Halloween party in the world”) on October 31.
Nautical Nightmares: Blood of the Mutineers (Mystic Seaport, Connecticut) - Is collecting donations of new or gently worn children’s and women’s socks to help families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. Donations benefit the Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut. (Shoes and athletic footwear donations also accepted.)
Safe Night Halloween at the Indiana State Fairgrounds – Free for area children as a way to give back to the community. October 31, 2009 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. (Thanks to Andy Klotz, the PR man at the Indiana State Fairground for sharing this with me.)
Tomb of Doom: Quest for the Lost Mummy (Indianapolis, Indiana) – The Children’s Museum Guild at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis puts this event on. Money raised benefits the museum, which is a non-profit and offers a lot of neat programs for children. And staying true to their kid-friendly mantra, they offer two experiences: Friendly Hours (lights on tours for little ones and people like me who scare easy) and Frightening Hours (lights off for people who dare to be scared). Nice touch. (Credit goes to Jaclyn Falkenstein, the museum’s PR Coordinator, for the FYI about this event.)
Literally, A Haunted House (New Albany, Indiana) – Each year the Friends of the Culbertson Mansion transform the Carriage House into a haunted attraction that raises money for restoration projects in the mansion. (Even though she’s not affiliated with the mansion, Robyn Davis Sekula provided this tip as a supporter of the event.)
Scaring Off Diabetes Halloween Display (Levittown, NY) – This is a really unique one. “During the month of October, more than 1,000 visitors of the Gomula residences are ushered into the Halloween spirit as they tip-toe through the haunted front yards of Frank, III, and his 77-year-old father, Frank, Jr., who lives next door.” Apparently they deck out their yards something fierce and in return for some Halloween fun ask people to donate to the Diabetes Research Institute. (Learned of this one from someone at DRI, their PR Coordinator Natasha Norris.)
SCREAM STIMULUS PACKAGES
Annalyn Censky of ANGLES Public Relations tipped me off that on their opening weekend (September 25-26), The Nest Haunted House (Phoenix, Arizona) joined with seven of the other top 10 haunted houses (as ranked by America’s Best Haunts) in offering the “economically-weary” Scream Stimulus support. Which equated to free admission for the unemployed, military, police, and fire personnel and their families.
The two who didn’t participate on opening weekend were Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, PA) and Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH). Nightmare New England’s Scream Stimulus date was October 4. Eastern State’s was yesterday (October 14) and today (October 15).