Let the light shine

July 17, 2015 -  By
The Decorated Family Program is just one part of Green Oasis’ service efforts.

The Decorated Family Program is just one part of Green Oasis’ service efforts. Photo: Green Oasis

From holiday light displays to fashion show fundraisers, Green Oasis is brightening lives however it can.

For military families, the holidays can be particularly stressful. After all, decorating often isn’t a top priority when a loved one is deployed.

The staff members at Green Oasis by Greener Grass Systems, based in Eau Claire, Wis., know this. They have been brightening the lives of military families at Christmastime for a decade, surprising them with free, elaborate light displays at their homes every holiday season.

Over the past 10 years, more than 15 families have benefitted from Green Oasis’ participation in the Christmas Décor Decorated Family Program. And while the national program typically is limited to military recipients, Green Oasis extends the service to families enduring prolonged sickness or great loss.

“We ask for nominations and consider all the families,” says Green Oasis Vice President Julie 
Bollinger. “It’s pretty difficult to choose one family, so we have decorated for more than one family for the past few years.”

Most of the beneficiaries are families with a deployed loved one, for whom maintaining a sense of normalcy during the holidays can be a struggle.

“Although the season can be challenging, they feel the true spirit of Christmas through the giving of our services,” Bollinger says.

Benefitting the community


Graphic: LM Staff

While the Christmas Décor Decorated Family Program garners Green Oasis the most publicity, the company’s giving hardly stops at large-scale holiday lighting displays. Its list of charitable projects is so long, it’s easy to lose count.

There’s the annual Easter egg hunt benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Eau Claire; the annual geranium fundraiser for Women of the Valley in Chippewa Falls; ornament sales for the Eau Claire and Chippewa Humane Society; and flower donations for moms in 
women’s shelters, just to name a few.

“We have something running at all times,” Bollinger says.

The company hosts several free events at its Green Oasis Gardens, a cross between a boutique and high-end garden center, and word is getting out. “We decided these events should benefit the community, so admission for those events is usually a donation for a benefactor organization,” she says.

The Green Oasis annual Easter egg hunt benefitting the Boys & Girls Club has been especially 
successful. “We ask people to bring in school supplies to 
participate,” Bollinger says. “We get so many supplies, they fill up the back of a pickup truck.”

A strong foundation

Green Oasis by Greener Grass 
Systems has a good reason for focusing on community service. Julie and her husband, company president Wayne Bollinger, have been part of the northwestern Wisconsin community for more than 35 years. It’s a loyal community, one that stood shoulder to shoulder with the Bollingers when their offices were destroyed by a fire Sept. 11, 2009.

The Bollingers were determined to rebuild, and residents supported them every step of the way.

“Community service is one of our core values and has been since the day we started in business,” Bollinger says. “We see giving back to the community as part of that promise. After the fire, we were overwhelmed by the support we received from customers, businesses, residents, even our competitors. This strengthened our commitment to supporting the community all the more.”

Green Oasis donated a lighting installation for a military family in Eau Claire, Wis. Photo: Green Oasis

Green Oasis donated a lighting installation for a military family in Eau Claire, Wis. Photo: Green Oasis

The company, formerly known as Greener Grass Systems, first used the Green Oasis name after the fire, when it opened its garden center. It wasn’t until this January, however, that it changed the name of its service operation to the Green Oasis name to better describe its current services.

The company initially specialized in irrigation and lawn care. It later diversified with landscaping, maintenance and snow removal. The Green Oasis name better reflects that diversity, Bollinger says.

With the Bollingers leading the way, the name also stands for altruism. Green Oasis employees are encouraged to engage in their communities. They bring project ideas to their managers whenever they recognize a need in their own worlds. And while there isn’t a formal selection process for choosing which projects get attention, if a project is close to a staffer’s heart, it will be considered, Bollinger says.

Even more giving is in store for Green Oasis this year. In October, the company expects to host its second annual fashion show fundraiser for breast cancer research, featuring survivors as models.

“As a business, we have a social responsibility. It’s just a given,” 
Bollinger says. “Every day we can go to bed feeling really good about everything that we’ve done that day. That is what motivates us, the positive impact we can have on the community as a whole on a daily basis.”


About the Author:

Geraci is a freelance writer based in Cleveland. She has worked as a professional journalist for more than 15 years, including six years as a writer for the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Allegheny College and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Geraci began her career as an editor at a newswire service in Washington, D.C., where she edited and distributed press releases from the White House and congressional leaders. She went on to become the community news reporter at the Jackson Hole Guide newspaper, winning two national feature writing awards. Her other experience includes working as a book editor in Chicago and as a professor of business communications at Cleveland State University.

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