The owner of the Touchstone Wildlife and Art Museum received the surprise of a lifetime over the weekend.
Cars lined the roadway and filled every parking space Saturday, March 25, just days after a story released by The Bossier Press-Tribune revealed they were struggling to stay open.
Community members rallied to support the museum, which has been part of the Haughton community for more than three decades.
It all started when Haughton resident Brooke Copes recently visited the museum with her husband, Jarrett Copes. It was the first they had been there in years.
“We drove by one day and decided to stop,” she said. “We listened to her story and I knew we had to do something to help her.”
Brooke was shocked to hear that school groups don’t visit anymore. That’s one memory she has from her childhood. Jarrett said he vividly remembers the Bonnie & Clyde section of the museum.
“That was the first thing I looked for when we came in,” he said. “It still looks the same as I remember it.”
Brooke went home and created a Facebook event page to save the museum, which reached more than 200 people. One of those who saw it was Stacey Adams of Haughton.
Stacey, who is a member of the Simple Church, said she prayed for a week for God to show her a way to serve her community. Then it came to her.
“God blesses you even when you least expect it,” Stacey said.
She decided to pay for the first 50 people to enter the museum that day.
“A lot of people say they want to go, but some can’t afford to go,” she said. “If this will keep the lights on for just two or three months, this is what I can do to love local.”
Lura Touchstone and her daughter, Samantha Olson, had no idea there was an event page on Facebook or that people would be coming Saturday morning. In just over two hours, they had nearly 50 adults and children come through the museum.
“Some days we have zero show up,” Samantha said, looking at the tally marks on her yellow tablet.
You certainly could not wipe the smile from Lura’s face.
“This is marvelous,” she said. “This is what we need. If we had a lot more days like this, we could catch up and stay open.”
Brooke made another Facebook post that said their one day effort had raised more than$650 for the museum, not counting donations or gift store purchases.
The Copes said they can’t wait to bring their seven-month-old son, Brodie, back when he’s older. Stacey hopes this is just the beginning of things to come for the Touchstones.
“Lura has so many dreams for this place and wants to keep Sam’s dreams alive,” she said. “She wants his dreams to live on. That’s all she wants. Go in and listen to her story. Listen to her words. Once you see her face light up, you’ll see why you’re doing this. She deserves this.”
The Touchstone Wildlife & Art Museum is located 2.2 miles eat of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Highway 80. Seasonal hours are February – September, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; and October – January, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Admission is $5. Children age three and under are admitted free with a paid adult ticket. Group reservations are available for schools, scout groups, church groups, etc.
For more info, call 318-949-2323.
You can also visit their website at www.touchstonemuseum.com or their Facebook page.