Warehouse 31 combining horror and philanthropy

By Marne Burghoffer | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Warehouse 31 has become a household name around St. Augustine during the Halloween season, but the behind the scenes work and charity of the haunted warehouse often go unnoticed.

Beginning in August volunteers work on setting up the supposedly haunted 18,000-square-foot storage unit to be as frightening as possible.

“Volunteers of all sorts are welcome in our family here,” said Donna McBride, production manager. The staff at Warehouse 31 is just that, a family, to many local teenagers who don’t feel they belong anywhere else. A number of the volunteers are at risk youth in need of support who are learning through responsibilities in the Warehouse skills such as acting, setting up and taking down the event, as well as crowd control. Some are even given the opportunity for housing if necessary.

“It gives kids who don’t feel like they belong a place to go,” said Kendall Braccia, Flagler sophomore and assistant production and art manager at Warehouse 31. Braccia designed one of the three attractions at the Warehouse this year, called Vertigo and is in charge of many of the actors’ make-up. Braccia explained that she has seen kids grow through their volunteering experience. For example some high school drop-outs have been tutored by other staff members to get their GEDs.

Along with supporting the youth of St. Augustine, Warehouse 31 also donates a portion of proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital because the owner, Jason Sills, is an advocate of the hospital.

Warehouse 31 is just one unit in a large storage facility located off Norcross Drive. In 2009, Red Mountain Entertainment, an Alabama-based company decided that it would be perfect to turn into a popular Halloween Haunted House. The event has been a success every year since with thousands of people going to experience the fear first hand. Managers state that they hope to continue with Warehouse 31 in St. Augustine in the future and that it will be bigger and scarier every year.

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