INDIANAPOLIS — "I always wanted to be that teacher that I never had,” said Renee Dixson, the director of a preschool ministry at Lynhurst Baptist Church.
And that’s what Dixson has been doing every chance she gets with the 50 or so students at the school.
“We are the first education that they are going to get,” she said.
The lessons this year have been difficult, especially the ones outside of the classroom. Dixson's students are living and learning through a global pandemic, and many of their parents are struggling to make ends meet.
“People who never thought they’d have to go to a food bank and now some of my parents do,” Dixson said of the struggles she’s seeing.
Money that might have gone to buy a few Christmas presents this year is now going to pay the bills.
“These children, their world just turned upside down on ‘em, no fault of theirs and I know some of them won’t get presents for Christmas,” Dixson said.
Her mission is to prevent that from happening.
Every Friday, when school gets out, this mother and grandmother climbs behind the wheel of her car and hits the streets, driving Uber clients all weekend long so she can earn money to afford gifts for her students.
“I know how it feels to be down as a child because your parent doesn’t have anything,” Dixson said.
She hasn’t wasted any time stocking up on gifts. Every time she makes $100 from her driving job, Renee stops at a store, usually Target, and goes shopping.
“I put ‘em in my trunk and go back out and drive again,” she said. Her office at school is already starting to fill up with gifts.
“It’s a lot of work, it’s hard work, but they deserve it,” Dixson said.
The extra hours worked aren’t just so the kids at school can have presents. She wants the teachers who work under her to have something, too.
“My teachers have been wonderful and I wanted to give them something to say thank you,” Dixson said. “Everyone always told me I have a big heart. I said, ‘No, I love children.
Dixson will be driving until Christmas Eve, if that’s what it takes.
“I have to do this because if I don’t do it for these children, then I let them down,” she said.