ANDERSON — The Ollie H. Dixon back-to-school parade has provided school supplies to families in Anderson for 33 years.
“Here in Anderson, we do have a percentage of students who would qualify for free and reduced lunch, so there is definitely a need for events like this,” Brad Meadows with Anderson Community Schools said.
The parade wouldn’t have been possible without Ollie Dixon and his daughter, Tamie Dixon-Tatum. The two have been running the event for over three decades.
“I came up struggling,” Ollie Dixon said. “Nine kids in the family. I know what it’s like to struggle.”
According to the National Retail Federation, families spend around $890 on average for back-to-school items.
“We are here for one reason, one common reason, and that is to support and encourage all of you,” Dixon said.
When Dixon first started the giveaway, he paid for the school supplies himself and recruited his daughter to help him find sponsors.
“Anytime there is a shortage, he takes his city council money in it. Anything extra, he takes out of his pocket and gives it to the community,” Tamie Dixon-Tatum said.
The decades old tradition is something that brings the community together. Generations of Anderson natives show thanks and return year after year.
"I had an individual come to me. He was at my first one and he introduced me to his child and his grandchild,” Dixon said. "They had all won bicycles out here. That's heartwarming. "
The Dixon’s say they hope everyone who attends understands just how impactful lending a hand to your neighbor can be.
"This is absolute love for the community, love for us,” Dixon-Tatum said. “It makes us feel good. We hope that we make them feel good as well.”
The father-daughter team says they have helped around 60,000 students over the last 33 years.
Each year the event costs between $7,000 and $9,000. For information on how to donate, click here.