From packing food at the local food bank to revitalizing a women’s shelter to landscape work for leukemia patients, the staff at AgriLawn is always finding ways to give back to the community.
“We’re a family and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to us,” says Ann Lally, marketing manager and charity outreach coordinator. “Families help each other, so we want to help the community.”
Volunteering also helps the company stay busy when the weather conditions make it impossible to work. The company is located around the corner from the regional food bank, and so when the winds and ice make it hard to work, 15 to 28 staff members head to the food bank to pack meals or fill backpacks with school supplies for local students.
AgriLawn employees who volunteer get paid for their time, and they have the opportunity to help out the community at the same time, so it’s a win-win, Lally says. “We want to make sure our guys get paid. It’s not their fault they can’t work. So we want to make sure they get that paycheck so we send them over to do some volunteer work.”
Plus, it helps build camaraderie among the crews. The company has been volunteering for the past 10 years, and crews have started friendly competitions to see who can load the most pallets or pack the most backpacks.
Because AgriLawn is an employee-owned business, everyone gets a say in which charitable endeavors the company puts its time and effort into. Often, Lally will put out a survey to see what types of projects the staff wants to get involved with, whether it’s focused on helping veterans, cancer patients, children or other causes.
“When we are working with anybody, it’s always an input from everybody from the organization because we are employee-owned,” Lally says. “So we want everyone’s input on what we do.”
Giving green spaces.
More often than not, the employees choose to help kids get outside. So, Lally will contact Ally’s House, an organization based in Oklahoma City that works with children who have cancer, and get a couple of families that could use AgriLawn’s assistance.
Then, around March, April and May, the company will go out and take a look at the properties, making sure not to let the families know in case the project isn’t a good fit. “We don’t want to get their hopes up,” Lally says.
AgriLawn plans for its volunteer projects a year in advance, for the most part. It also tries to work with its vendors to help share in the cost of projects. For example, a sod company might donate some sod for a lawn renovation or a tree care specialist might donate his time and expertise.
Their first project with Ally’s House was a large undertaking. The family, whose daughter was battling leukemia, had a tree growing into their house, and the landscaping was in shambles.
“The neighborhood was getting upset with them because they weren’t able to keep up on their house or their yard or mow their lawn or anything,” Lally says. “And so the neighbors were getting really upset, and it didn’t matter that the family was going through this difficult time.”
So the AgriLawn team came in and did a complete makeover of the yard and the flower beds. They also worked with an arborist to trim back the tree. They also put in new beds in the backyard so that the daughter could get outside and garden, as well as a patio area so that the family could enjoy their new landscape.
A couple of years ago, the company helped another leukemia patient, Keaton, get outdoors with a new trampoline and a treehouse.
“He got leukemia when he was 2 years old and by the time we had found him he was 4 or 5 and it was tough for him to get out and do things because of the treatments and stuff making him really weak,” Lally says.
So the company purchased the trampoline to help him gain strength in his legs. The treehouse was also specifically designed for Keaton’s needs. Since the leukemia treatments meant he needed to stay out of the sun, the company put together a playset with a cover so that he could climb up into the treehouse on top or play in the sandbox in the shade underneath.
“He was a very bright little boy and over his fence was a little wooded area so when he would get up in that treehouse he would see all these different kinds of birds and animals on the other side of the fence,” Lally says. “We bought him a bird book and some binoculars so that when he got up in his little treehouse, he could spot the different animals and birds on the other side.”
AgriLawn has kept up with Keaton’s family over the past three or four years, offering their support and even getting T-shirts made. Unfortunately, Keaton passed away this past May, but the company continues to offer support to the family.
Other times, AgriLawn employees will nominate a cause that’s important to them. This year, an employee who served in the military met a family while servicing their lawn and nominated them for the year’s project.
The veteran was dealing with PTSD from his time serving in Iraq, so the company redid his yard to thank him for his service.
And to make sure gifts keep giving, AgriLawn staff will continue to service the lawns and take care of the landscapes. “The employees are excited and they really get into it and they get into getting familiarized with the family,” Lally says. “We’re out there; we’re servicing their lawn; we’re doing the treatments for the yard for a year or so to keep it maintained. There’s no sense in doing it if it’s not going to be maintained for them and if they’re not able to do it themselves.”