Convicted felon changes life, mentors underserved children in Chattanooga

A Chattanooga nonprofit that mentors children in underserved communities is hosting its annual toy drive and the founder says the need is greater this year than ever before.

Reginald Yearby started Reach One Teach One Uca in 2018 in an effort to prevent kids in his community from living the life he used to live.

Yearby served 90 months in prison for drug offenses. During his incarceration, he says he spent a lot of time thinking about how he could do something positive for others after being released.

“I wanted to heal the community I tried to poison,” said Yearby.

This year, the nonprofit is hosting its third annual toy drive and is calling on the community to help.

Last year, the ministry reached more than 300 kids and impacted over 60 families with toys and holiday meals.

This year, Yearby says they’re hoping to help even more people.

“We’re trying to at least double that number this year because we know that during this pandemic everyone is in need,” Yearby told Channel 3.

The nonprofit is partnering with several local businesses to help make that possible.

There are several toy drop-off locations including Papa John's Pizza at the Collegedale, Lee Highway and both Hixson Pike locations. When you bring in a $10 new, unwrapped toy, you'll receive a $10 off coupon to use on your next order at any Greater Chattanooga area Papa John's Pizza. 

The toy drive ends on December 11 this year.

Reach One Teach One Uca mentors children ages five to 14 in underserved communities through after school activities and leadership summits.

Children are given opportunities to tour the city, meet positive role models and explore potential future careers.

The program has grown to include more than 70 children in three years.