One selfless preschool director drove an Uber for weeks so that her students would all receive holiday gifts and winter gear.

They say the holidays are all about giving, but Renee Dixon took it one step further last year when she inspired an entire community (and nation!) to come together and put the children first during the Christmas season. 

Putting the kids first

Dixon, the director of the Lynhurst Baptist Church Preschool in Indianapolis, wanted to ensure that all 50 of the children at her school had a memorable Christmas last year in the wake of the pandemic.

“So many of our families don’t have money to get Christmas presents this year. Some parents have lost their jobs, others have had their wages cut back,” Dixon told The Washington Post. “A lot of them already come from low-income families and are below the poverty line.”

So the then 47-year-old took on a second job with Uber and Lyft, driving until about 1 or 2 in the morning on weekdays, as well as for 12 hours on Saturdays and six hours on Sundays so that she could buy presents and winter gear for the kids.

I can’t rest. These kids need me.

Renee Dixon

Dixon revealed her inspiration to help others stems from her own childhood. Growing up with a single mom, her family didn’t have much. “Certain things I wanted her to get me, she couldn’t,” Dixon explained. “It hurt then, but now, as an adult, I understand.” 

Inspiring others to do the same

Last year wasn’t the first time the educator helped to give the children under her care a proper holiday, but with the pandemic hitting her community pretty hard (she herself lost three family members to coronavirus), Dixon ramped up her efforts. Her students ranged from 1 to 12 years old, plus many of them had siblings she didn’t want to feel left out.

Every time she pulled in $100 she headed straight to Target to purchase toys, games, dolls, and Lego sets, things her kids had expressed an interest in. The goal was to grab two gifts per child: one from the school and one from their parents or Santa. Dixon also put aside small bonuses for each member of her staff. Along the way, she shared her story with her passengers, some of whom began recording her. Before she knew it, she’d gone viral and many community members were eager to chip in, too. 

Some gave money, others started going with her to shop for the toys. According to People, Uber offered to match the money Dixon had pulled in (estimated around $2,500 at the time), and a local news station later reported that The Lego Corporation also sent along 100 toy sets and books for the kids after seeing the story.

“We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from people in Indiana and the Indianapolis area, donating money, donating toys and someone saw our interview on TV, and The Washington Post called me,” Dixon told the outlet.

I’m like, ‘I’m not doing anything spectacular. I’m helping these kids, helping their parents. That’s something you’re supposed to do.’

Renee Dixon

An unexpected surprise

Dixon did this all to help others and expected nothing in return. In fact, she admitted to The Washington Post that she wasn’t buying presents for her own daughters because every last bit was going towards the kids. Her daughters didn’t mind one bit, and they even helped to pick out some of the presents.

“My mom has always had a love for children. She is always looking to help younger kids at this time of year,” Dixon’s 26-year-old daughter, Vemirah Johnson, explained. 

The story was so touching that when Pat Hurst, the general manager of a local Nissan dealership, heard about it, he decided to become Santa for a day too. And so he gifted Dixon a Nissan Armada with enough room for her kids and her grandchildren. 

I needed something in my life… So, like everybody else, I needed that little spark that there are people out there that still care. That lets you know that everything is going to be all right.

Renee Dixon to KENs-5 News

Driven to help

Dixon loves children, but her big heart has inspired so many others to give back, too. And considering what a hard year-and-a-half it’s been for so many during the pandemic, that kind of love is a much-needed, bright light for so many. 

“It’s really [taken] a load off,” mother-of-three April Eberly told The Washington Post. “The bills add up, and we would love the help this year. I am very appreciative that she is taking her time to work a second job.”

“One little boy came to me and he said, ‘Mrs. Renee, this the best Christmas I’ve ever had.’ I almost cried and I’m like, ‘There are going to be more good Christmases for you.’ He’s like, ‘No, this is the best Christmas I ever had,’” Dixon added to 13-WTHR.

While it’s not plausible for everyone out there to snag a second job in order to help others, this story does remind us that there are still many people out there who could use a little extra love- especially around the holiday season. So whether you grab a couple of extra toys to donate while shopping for your loved ones this season, stock up on pantry staples for the local food bank, or volunteer a few hours at a local charity of your choice, it won’t just make a difference in someone else’s life: it may also inspire others to do the same. 

More uplifting stories

Spread love
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”- Maya Angelou