07/07/2013 at 09:00 AM EDT
When Chris Brown
was growing up in Tappahannock, Va., he had one pair of sneakers that he could wear to school, and that was it until the next year.
Now, the singer, 24, is helping put shoes on the feet of the kids who need it most.
"I used to have to borrow my cousin's clothes," he told PEOPLE on Saturday at a Los Angeles event for his Unity Campaign, sponsored by Reebok.
"So being able to come from that poverty-stricken environment and then being able to get out of it is what I tried to [do]. ... I just want to show the kids and have them have a better light of opportunities for them to do what they need to do."
Brown, whose new album, X
, arrives in stores in August, is reaching out to others as he continues to work through his own issues.
Just last month, he was charged with hit-and-run, reports CNN
. He's also charged with violating his probation in connection with his felony assault conviction in the domestic abuse drama that unfolded with off-again girlfriend Rihanna