Small Mid-South town creates haunted house to support volunteer fire department

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HENNING, Tenn. — Though it's not quite time to go trick-or-treating, it's safe to say Halloween is in the air. One small Mid-South community is actually depending on the spooky season to help out their volunteer fire department.

About an hour outside of Memphis, residents of Henning, Tennessee, are working to cause a scare and raise some money.

Walking through the house of horrors, it's clear Al and Dawn Stankey are fulfilling their passions. They created the haunted house in the small town in Lauderdale County.

"It's a love," Al Stankey said. "My side jobs and projects let us pay for this. We just ask for community support after that."

Al, fire chief of the Henning volunteer fire department, took us through the creepy hallways, the mad scientist laboratory and operating rooms.

"We have our crazed doctors in here, so doctors come in to give you a free exam," Al said. "You may not leave the same as you came in."

Al credited the haunted house to hundreds of hours, countless months of preparation and time donated not by just his department but people living in the area.

"It took a team effort," he said.

Henning, a town of less than 1,000 people, depends heavily on the volunteer fire department. They also depend on a cash flow, which isn't much.

"Because being small, there's just not enough tax dollars to go around with the equipment that we need," Al said.

They're forced their imagination to raise money for expensive gear.

"With a set of turn out gear, which is the gear that the firemen wear, are averaging about $3,200 to $3,500, it doesn't go far," Al said. "We need every penny we can get."

Many of the props used look realistic, and that's because they are. Much of the props were donated by areas businesses as well as a local hospital.

"We're actually involving some of the neighborhood kids and people from the neighborhood for this," Al said.

Al hopes his team's creation inspires others to help other small cities.

"You can reach out to any volunteer fire department out there," he said. "They need your help."

A portion of the money will also help the Henning Community Center.

Admission is $10 to enter the haunted house at 655 Church Street in Henning. It's running every Friday and Saturday the rest of October from 6 to 11 p.m., on Halloween from 6 to 10 p.m. and on Nov. 1 and 2 from 6 to 11 p.m.

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