updated 04/28/2010 AT 1:30 PM ET
•originally published 04/29/2010 AT 11:50 AM ET
It’s a city synonymous with rebuilding – so New Orleans seems like the perfect place for Sandra Bullock to raise son Louis.
“New Orleans is his city, and he is going to know it inside and out,” she says in the exclusive PEOPLE cover story, on newsstands now. “Without the spirit of the people who live there and take care of the city and honor its traditions, its love for music, its love for life, take those people out and you don’t have why I love New Orleans so much.”
Even before deciding to “find our child in New Orleans,” Bullock was establishing significant ties to and a love for the Big Easy.
After Hurricane Katrina, Bullock became a major supporter of Warren Easton Charter High School, the first public high school for boys in Louisiana. The historical school sustained $4 million in damages, and the actress, who tells PEOPLE she “felt such a profound need to do something for them,” has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for renovations, new band uniforms and a new health clinic.
She has also established a $10,000 college scholarship. Not to mention, before Bullock scored a Best Actress Oscar for starring in The Blind Side, which was written by New Orleans native Michael Lewis, she used the film’s New Orleans premiere as a fundraiser to benefit the school. Her generosity even earned her an induction into the school’s hall of fame last year.
“She acts as if all 800-plus of these children are her own,” Warren Easton’s principal Alexina Medley tells PEOPLE. Adds school board member Arthur Hardy: “She has been our angel. We love her.”