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Florida Teen's Haunted House Scares Up Money for a Really Good Cause


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Homelessness, often a direct result of extreme poverty, spiked in the US in 2017. Andrew Long is collecting donations at his annual haunted house to the Homeless Empowerment Program. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Andrew Long is combining his love of Halloween and design for a good cause. 

The 16-year-old is collecting donations to help the homeless at a haunted cemetery he made on his front yard in Palm Harbor, Florida, that opened to the public Saturday, Teen Vogue reports

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Long isn’t trying to scare anyone with his homemade tombstones and elaborate spooky side effects, he wrote on Facebook. He simply wants to keep trick-or-treaters entertained while giving them an opportunity to take action. 

“New for this year we decided to put a name to it, to have something to donate to and for people to have a reason to come,” said Long, who teamed up with the local organization Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP) for the free interactive experience he’s calling “The Haunt for HEP.”

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“I’ve volunteered at HEP before and I thought it would be a good cause,” he said of the group, which aims to provide homeless and low-income people with housing, food, clothing, and support services they need to become self-sufficient and enjoy a better quality of life. 

The homeless community could definitely use the support on a local and national level. Florida families were unexpectedly left without shelter earlier this month, after Hurricane Michael hit the state that reported having a homeless population over 32,000 in 2017. After seven years of steady decline, the US homeless population increased to 554,500 people in 2017 as a result of the West Coast housing crisis, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

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The Haunt for HEP, which will be open Oct. 30 and 31, is also accepting donations on its Facebook page — 100% of the donations, including cash, clothing and supplies, will go to the program. 

The young humanitarian started constructing props for the project in December 2017. He’s created large-scale spooky experiences for the past four years with the help of his dad,, Mike Long, an engineer. What started as a low-budget DIY experiment for friends and family when Long was 10 years old, grew into a neighborhood attraction that brought in 300 people last year. 

Long told ABC News he wants to become a Disney Imagineer one day and aspires to study architecture and engineering. At this rate, it looks like he might have a future in philanthropy, too.