INDIANAPOLIS — Preschool director Renee Dixon has been working “every weekend, Uber and Lyft, to save up money to buy” her students Christmas gifts.
It’s a tradition she’s carried out annually for years because, she says, “every child needs a merry Christmas.”
She said she tries to provide whatever her families or teachers need all year long and said Lynhurst Baptist Church Preschool Ministry is lucky enough to have a food pantry. She’s working to collect winter wear for the children. But Christmastime always has a special meaning to Dixon.
“I start playing Christmas music in October,” said Dixon, laughing.
When the pandemic hit, Dixon decided she was going to provide a Christmas present for every child in the building and when Dixon makes a promise, she keeps it.
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have much,” said Dixon.
She said most children don’t know that not receiving gifts is a budgetary issue for parents, so she wants to be there for families and especially the children “just to give them a little bit of love, just for one day because since COVID, their world has been turned upside down,” said Dixon.
Dixon said she told one of her Uber/Lyft passengers about her gift-giving efforts.
“He said he works for Wheeler Mission, and he was like, ‘I like what you’re doing,’” said Dixon.
“And I’m like, ‘It’s nothing. This is what you're supposed to do,'" she said.
“So he recorded me and him talking, and Emily Longnecker contacted me and said she’s seen it,” said Dixon. “And we did and interview with her. And then The Washington Post did an article.”
Dixon said she was able to provide gifts for about 70 kids this year.
“All 50 kids and their siblings was able to get Christmas presents this year,” she said.
But donations continued to pour in.
“We had so many people donate that I actually gave other preschools books and Legos and toys,” said Dixon.
Dixon then received a call from Andy Mohr Nissan in Avon. They wanted to give her a free car.
“We saw that she wanted a Nissan Armada as her Christmas gift,” said Pat Hurst, the dealership's general manager. “We couldn’t be more happy to provide her with her Christmas gift.”
Dixon said she wasn’t expecting any gifts this year.
“I’m like, 'Are you really serious?'” said Dixon, laughing. “I had tears in my eyes. I’m still in shock.”
Dixon said she had wanted a Nissan Armada for a very long time, but the gift means more than an eight-seater vehicle that can fit both her children and grandchildren.
“I needed something in my life,” said Dixon. “My uncle died of COVID, and two months later, his son, my cousin, died of COVID. He was my best friend, and I saw him die in front of my eyes, so like everybody else, I needed that little spark that there’s people out there that still care. That lets you know that everything is going to be alright.”
Dixon says that’s the intention behind her Christmas gifts and that she hopes others will be inspired to pay it forward by reaching out to preschools in their area to find out what children may need.