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Scaring up some fun for a good cause this weekend
Tompkins home ready for annual haunted house
web and grave
Keith and Martie Tompkins will be holding their annual haunted house for the ninth year Friday night, and visitors are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for FORCE — but many of the attractions at the Tompkins’ home have already ... perished. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott
If you go
• Who: Keith and Martie  Tompkins
• Where: 140 Brittany Lane, south Effingham
• When: Saturday night
• What: Haunted house, and each participant is asked to bring a canned good for FORCE

For the ninth year, Keith and Martie Tompkins will transform their house at 140 Brittany Lane in the South Effingham area Saturday into a frightening and fun haunted house for the public. Beyond all the fun and frights the house gives, they also hope to be able to give a lot of food items to the Food Outreach Co-Op of Effingham County (FORCE). All they ask is a non-perishable food donation.

Keith said they started the haunted house when they moved here from Mobile, Ala., back in 2000 and that they’ve tried to add more to the experience every year.

“Every year, we spend over $1,000 just to get the candy and to add something to it every year. It’s a real sickness – that’s what it is,” Martie laughed.

They both said doing this has become a lot for two people and they have started having volunteers from the area help out. This year, they expect to have about 20 volunteers between adults and students. One family they enlisted has two daughters who were extras in the Miley Cyrus movie “The Last Song” shot this summer in Savannah. They said the two have the acting bug now and want to do some scary acting this time.

The fun starts on their front lawn where a dozen or more characters and scenes are set up. You then walk through a darkened and eerily lit entrance that becomes a tunnel, leading you, maze-like through the house and the yard before leading you out through the “cemetery walk.”

Keith said last year between 400 and 500 people came through the haunted house and many had to go through more than once. He said a lot of times kids will go through fast the first time, “ ’cause they’re a little scared,” but then will go back over and over to really enjoy it and see what’s there.

Both Keith and Martie said they have great neighbors. They said they help with parking and seem to enjoy having it in their area. They are putting directional signs out around the neighborhood, leading people to the house and even have it posted on their Web site, There is a mapquest button on the site to help in finding your way there.

The Tompkins said since they don’t have kids of their own, they regard their visitors each Halloween as their own.

When asked where they keep all the props and things, Keith said, “Yeah, that’s what everybody asks us, ‘where do you keep all this stuff?’

“We tell them, ‘you’ve heard the old saying, “skeletons in the closet?”’ Well, we literally have skeletons in the closet.”