SAFE (Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Inc.) – the Baltimore-based foundation begun by former local athlete Van Brooks to inform young people about the importance of obtaining an education – will be giving away sleeping bags to homeless youth in Baltimore City this weekend.

The sleeping bag giveaway is part of the “We Care Campout to End Youth Homelessness,” a block party and resource fair being held, 4-8 p.m., Nov. 22, at War Memorial Plaza, 101 N. Gay Street in downtown Baltimore. Sponsored by the Baltimore City Youth Commission, the Campout will feature free food and entertainment, as well as distribution of blankets, toiletries, and, of course, sleeping bags to homeless youth.

SAFE collected sleeping bags with the help of several local donors, including SECU – the largest state-chartered financial cooperative in Maryland.

SECU also recently held a food drive at its 22 branches throughout Maryland to benefit the Maryland Food Bank and other organizations providing meals to those in need. In addition to handling distribution of donated food, SECU contributed $2000 to the Maryland Food Bank on behalf of individual school districts throughout the state in support of the “Kids Helping Kids” campaign.

“Both the SAFE Sleeping Bag Collection and the Maryland Food Bank support represent SECU’s continuing commitment to support activities within the communities we serve,” says Carmen David Mirabile, assistant vice president of marketing at SECU.

Mirabile explains that SECU began working with SAFE earlier this year when the foundation launched Yards for Success, a flag football program designed to help area students mix fun and fitness with education.

SECU, which has a long history of helping young adults understand the basics of money management through several financial literacy
programs and initiatives like its Millionaire’s Club and Junior Achievements partnerships, handled the financial literacy aspects of the
program, providing participants with basic information and practical advice on issues impacting their future financial well-being.

In addition to the Sleeping Bag Collection and Yards for Success, SAFE has given away backpacks with school supplies and food baskets for Thanksgiving, and has adopted families for Christmas and refurbished a community basketball court.

For more information or to donate to SAFE, visit or contact Van Brooks at 443-453-8181 or