Ellsworth believes Haunts for Hunger helps start this discussion. “We're starting a conversation in our community that doing good can be a fun thing,” Ellsworth said. “Every single young person in our community can do good if they put the work into it.”
Ellsworth and Henson put roughly 45 to 60 hours of work in the two weeks leading up to Halloween. This time is spent building the haunted house and all that it contains, the planning begins even sooner. They get help from volunteers and other students wishing to get in volunteer hours.
“That's what makes me so happy,” Ellsworth said. “It's making people think about their impact on other people's lives.” At the ending of each night, Ellsworth said he only had one feeling, and that feeling is pride.
Haunts for Hunger made its initial debut in 2014. “It was four rooms separated by black plastic and minimal decorations,” Ellsworth said. “We had maybe three actors in the whole thing and no outdoor area. We got maybe 50 people over two nights coming to the house.” That year Haunts for Hunger raised around 100 pounds of food. “It was just a small little thing we were trying to figure out. From there, it grew pretty exponentially.”
On the night of the event, Ellsworth begins his work around 4 p.m.. “I’ll turn off the lights and get the fog machines warmed up,” Ellsworth said. “We'll do a safety check of everything. Then we opened up for Spooky Time at 5:30 p.m.. We have little kids who come in, and we put on fun Halloween music and we have skeletons in place [of] where the actors might be.”
At around 6:30 p.m., the actors start showing up. “We get them in a wide range of costumes,” Ellsworth said. “We have these Tyvek suits, which have been spray-painted and bloodied up with fake blood, and prisoner jumpsuits, and there is makeup to go with all of this.” The ‘monsters’ are released at 7:30 p.m. beginning what is called Scary Time. “This is when the line really begins to form,” Ellsworth said.
Photos Courtesy of Will Ellsworth