Every year, Beaufort's Halloween-inspired Ghost Tours happen right under the noses of many children whose families can't afford to send them on a decorated, horse-drawn carriage to hear guides weave spooky tales along the city's historic streets.
A community leader is changing that for at least 12 children this year and, with donations from residents and city officials, will establish a fund to give children similar opportunities in the future.
Henrietta Goode, an active Northwest Quadrant neighborhood resident who also serves on the city's Redevelopment Commission, said she decided last week to sponsor enough children to fill one carriage ride.
"I like to see kids in the neighborhood do things they've never done before," Goode said. "I thought it would be nice to say, 'Hey, because it's you, here's what we're going to do.' "
The idea came to Goode at the last minute, and she was prepared to cover the cost of one carriage full of children -- between about $120 and $160.
She also mentioned the idea to other residents and community leaders.
"I know that so many of the children in this area miss out on so many things," Goode said in an e-mail seeking sponsors. "During the seasons, I try to find small ways that I can impact their lives with memories that will last a lifetime, no matter what the obstacles of life are."
As of Wednesday, Goode had about $420 in pledges from people who wanted to help, she said.
By the time she contacted the Exchange Club of Beaufort, which hosts the tours and has a limited number of carriages, there was only one tour available, Goode said.
At $10 a ticket for children 11 and under, she was left with extra sponsorships.
Twelve children from the Northwest Quadrant neighborhood and four adults will go on the tour this year, Goode said.
The city of Beaufort will hold the extra funds in a trust to sponsor future activities for area children, Goode said.
City Councilwoman Donnie Beer, who has served as one of the ghost tour guides for years, said she jumped at the opportunity to sponsor two children after Goode approached her.
"We forget that there are some families in the area who would like to participate in something like this but just don't have $10 to put toward a ticket," Beer said.
Beer's fellow council member Mike Sutton said he contributed $100 to the cause. Larry Holman, who is competing with Sutton and Beer for one of two council seats up for election in Tuesday's non-partisan, at-large election, said he sponsored four children. Kim Kolton, the fourth candidate in that race, said she did not receive a request to make a contribution but thinks Goode's idea is "absolutely terrific."
The tours, typically held for three weekends in October, continue tonight, Friday and Saturday.
Proceeds benefit the Child Abuse Prevention Association of Beaufort County.